The High Cost of Empty Prisons

14 10 2009

New York:

prisons cost a heap of money and are a massive financial burden

Last Wednesday (07/10/09), changes to New York´s notorious Rockefeller drug laws went into effect, allowing judges to shorten the prison terms of some non-violent offenders; particularly those incarcerated for non-violent crimes such as cannabis posession. This measure will further reduce New York´s prison population, which has already declined in the past 10 years from about 71,600 in 1999 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani to about 59,300 today – The state´s crime rate also dropped substantially during that time.
Nevertheless, the state has been slow to close prisons;  this is a multi-billion-dollar industry – opposition from the correction officers´ union and politicians from the upstate areas where most of our correctional facilities are has been fierce.

It was not until earlier this year that policymakers in Albany, confronted with fiscal crisis, mustered the will to shut three prison camps and seven prison annexes which amounted to a total of about 2,250 prison beds. This move is expected to save $52 million over the next two years.
But the state could go further… The prison system still has more than 5,000 empty beds in 69 prisons. What´s more, there are other ways to lower the prison population. For starters state lawmakers could repeal the Rockefeller mandatory sentencing provisions that remain on the books. This could automatically release hundreds (maybe thousands) of prisoners currently incarcerated where the presiding judge was obliged to impose a mandatory-minimum sentence.

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Czech Republic Decriminalising Cannabis?

18 11 2008

pragueThe Czech lower house of parliament Tuesday approved changes in the country’s penal code that distinguish between hard and soft drugs and make possession of small amounts of marijuana only a low-level offence. The reform must now pass the upper chamber and be signed by the president of the republic.

Under current Czech law, the production and sale of any sort of illicit drug is punishable by five to fifteen years in prison. Under the reforms approved by the lower house, while those possessing more than personal use amounts of most drugs would face up to two years in prison, those found possessing large amounts of marijuana would face up to one year in prison and those caught growing larger amounts of pot would face up to six months.

The Czech government has already issued a draft decree effectively decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, including up to 20 joints or three pot plants, 25 magic mushrooms, 0.3 grams of Ecstasy and morphine, 0.2 grams of heroin, a half-gram of cocaine, and 0.005 grams of LSD. But that draft is not yet binding on the courts.

Passage of the reform measure didn’t come without clashes among junior members of the ruling coalition. The Greens proposed the complete legalization of marijuana use and production for adults, while the Christian Democrats argued against any differentiation between soft and hard drugs. Both those measures were rejected.

Source: stopthedrugwar.org








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