Cut Crime With Wiser Spending On Probation, Parole: Pew Report


New supervision strategies and technologies can help manage more lower-risk offenders safely outside of prison at lower cost and with better results than incarceration, argues a new report from the Pew Center on the States. Such efforts need to be strengthened, not scaled back in a time of budget crises, said Pew. “Cutting them may appear to save a few dollars, but it won't. It will fuel the cycle of more crime, more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions and still more imprisonment.” Pew cites “significant advances in community supervision,” including sophisticated risk assessment tools that help determine which offenders require the most supervision and what sort of services they need. Also, global positioning stystems,rapid-result drug tests, and other technology can track offenders’ whereabouts and behavior. Supervision, treatment, and re-entry programs are incorporating research on how to cut recidivism.
The report said that corrections programs–mainly prisons, probation, and parole, are a prime target for cuts. Last year, corrections was the fastest expanding major segment of state budgets; in the past two decades, its growth as a share of state expenditures has been second only to Medicaid. State corrections costs exceed $50 billion annually and consume one in every 15 discretionary dollars. As prisons have expanded rapidly, so have the numbers on probation or parole, to more than 5 million, up from 1.6 million 25 years ago. This means that 1 in 45 U.S. adults are under criminal justice supervision in the community; combined with those in prison and jail, 1 in every 31 adults, 3.2 percent, is under correctional control. The rates are drastically higher for men (1 in 18) and blacks (1 in 11) and are even higher in some inner-city neighborhoods.

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