Some Good News for a Change
Although it changes nothing immediately, it is good to hear Missouri’s highest-ranking judge point out the inefficiency and waste of imprisoning nonviolent criminals:
During his annual State of the Judiciary address, Missouri Chief Justice William Ray Price, Jr. urged lawmakers to take a closer look at the incarceration of nonviolent offenders and the expansion of the state’s drug court system.
In a speech today before the house and Senate, Price said Missouri’s “broken strategy of cramming inmates into prisons” isn’t working and costs the state millions of dollars each year.
He said the state should focus on rehabilitating nonviolent offenders, instead of sending them to jail. Jailing nonviolent offenders, Price said, frequently leads to higher recidivism rates. 41.6 percent of nonviolent offenders who are jailed, then released, return to jail within two years, he said.
Price praised the state’s drug court system, but said it needs at least $2 million more funding per year to operate at full capacity.
According to the Show-Me Institute’s new spending tool, “Show-Me: The Books,” Missouri spends more than $2.7 billion a year on the Department of Corrections. Much of that spending keeps violent criminals off the street and is justified, but much of it goes to lock up petty criminals and drug offenders. Of course, I would go much further than Judge Price by eliminating prosecution of all victimless crimes (e.g., drug possession, prostitution) completely, but given how rare it is to hear someone in power even approximate my position, I will gladly take it.