Pubdate: Sun, 27 Dec 2009
Source: Press-Register (Mobile, AL)
Copyright: 2009 Mobile Register
Author: Loretta Nall


According to a Dec. 16 story in the Press-Register, "Prison chief
warns of layoffs, closings," Alabama's prison 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 of Corrections' Web site, there are
currently 8,641 prisoners serving time for drug violations at a cost
of $15,223 a year per person. 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 or so left over.

It's really a no-brainer.

Locking up people in our prison system because we disagree with their
intoxicant of choice is what has driven the overcrowding and financial

What it hasn't done and never will do, however, is stop people from
using drugs, reduce violence associated with the drug trade or keep
drugs out of the hands of children.

Why must citizens be forced to keep paying for such a failed policy
that has never met one of its stated objectives?

Think of all the other worthy programs that $132 million could be used

No more drug war.

Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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