Pubdate: Thu, 31 Dec 2009
Source: Alexander City Outlook, The (AL)
Copyright: 2009 The Alexander City Outlook
Author: Loretta Nall


Dear Editor,

Much has been written recently about the dire financial circumstances
the Alabama Department of Corrections is currently in. According to a
recent story in papers across the state 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 non-violent 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 people up in our prison system because we disagree with their
intoxicant of choice is what has driven the overcrowding and financial
crises. 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. One need look no further than
alcohol prohibition to prove this theory. 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 for.


Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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