Pubdate: Tue, 22 Dec 2009
Source: Birmingham News, The (AL)
Copyright: 2009 The Birmingham News
Author: Loretta Nall


Much has been written recently about the dire financial circumstances
of the Alabama Department of Corrections. According to a story in The
Birmingham News, Commissioner Richard Allen said there will be a $15
million shortfall in 2010, which could lead to early releases and
layoffs. The state's General Fund is ailing, and it isn't likely the
$15 million will come from there. However, I have a simple plan that
would provide the $15 million with gobs of money left over.

According to the department's Web site, there are currently 8,641
prisoners serving time for drug violations at a cost of $15,223 a year
each. That costs Alabama taxpayers around $132 million a year. If the
nonviolent drug offenders were released, that $15 million would be
readily available, plus an additional $117 million left over. It's
really a no-brainer.

Locking people up in our prison system because we disagree with their
intoxicant of choice is responsible for the financial crises. What it
hasn't done -- and never will do -- is stop people from using drugs,
reduce violence associated with the drug trade or keep drugs out of
the hands of children. Think of all the other worthy programs that
$132 million could be used for.

Loretta Nall

Alexander City 
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