Crime is down, but the U.S. is “living with the legacy” of crime increases in the 1980s, Peter Greenwood of the Association for the Advancement of Evidence Based Practice, which favors rehabilitative approaches, told the New York Times. Greenwood was commenting on a new study from the Pew Center on the States, reported yesterday in Crime & Justice News, on the high cost of the American corrections system. Pew warned against cutting probation and parole programs that have the potential of reducing crime.
Prisons and jails, along with powerful prison guard unions, service contracts, and high-profile sheriffs and police chiefs, are in a much better position to protect their interests than were parole and probation officers, Greenwood said. “Traditionally, probation and parole is at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said. “They're just happy every time they don't lose a third of their budget.” Brian Walsh of the conservative Heritage Foundation cautioned against concluding that prisons should be smaller because crime rates are down. Walsh said tougher penalties for crimes had driven crime down in the first place. “The reality is that one of the reasons crime rates are so low is because we changed our federal and state systems in the past two decades to make sure that people who commit crimes, especially violent crimes, actually have to serve significant sentences,” he said.