More Good News
Last week, I noted with some pleasure Missouri Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr.’s call for a less punitive approach to nonviolent offenders in our legal system. In an editorial today, the Post-Dispatch praises Price and offers some concrete recommendations for reform:
• Drug courts need more funding. This is the low-hanging fruit in criminal justice reform — the chance to save serious money by ending the cycle of crime and keeping nonviolent, drug-related offenders out of prison. A lack of funding means state leaders aren’t serious.
• Leaders in rural counties must start to deal with nonviolent offenders in their own communities. If their prosecutors and judges insist on sending everyone to prison, then local taxpayers should be forced to pick up the tab.
• And, Gov. Jay Nixon should convene a panel of top law enforcement, legislative and judicial officials. Their task over the next 120 days should be to develop a plan for closing five of Missouri’s 21 adult correctional institutions over the next five years — one a year for five years — using part of the savings to support alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
I agree that all of these would be positive developments, but I will note that we could save even more money if the state did not attempt to force people to abstain from certain vices. Oh, well — baby steps, I suppose.