When do longer prison sentences and harsher punishments become counterproductive and financially irresponsible? For the past four decades politicians have built their careers on the get-tough-on-crime mantra. Since the 1970s, the states have doubled or quadrupled their prison populations. It is not uncommon for a low-level drug crime to receive a prison sentence in the 10- to 15-year range. This is furthered by the state’s willingness to exploit its sentencing guidelines to result in lengthier sentences for nonviolent crimes. It is no wonder that the Illinois Department of Corrections budget topped $1.4 billion and is still growing.
The state of New York is reaping the fiscal and societal benefits of a lower incarceration rate and a lower crime rate, which has resulted in reduced money being spent on incarceration. New York has started to turn its back on archaic ideologies regarding criminal justice. New York has led the way in promoting drug treatment and reducing sentences for nonviolent crimes. A study by the Rand Corporation concluded that treatment for people charged with cocaine offenses would reduce the serious violent and property crimes 15 times more effectively than incarceration.
People of Illinois, the time has arrived when the government must recognize that primary reliance on incarceration as a crime reduction strategy and drug control policy is neither effective nor economically viable. John Roman, director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute was right when he said, “We’re investing more and more in prisons, and getting a smaller and smaller return.”
James Paul Miller
A-92410, Logan Correctional Center
My husband and I both use myfitnesspal.com [see “Here’s how I did it,” by Gus Gordon, Jan. 5]. We began our weight loss journey in March. I have lost 60 lbs and my husband about 30. Of course, he didn’t need to lose as much to begin with. I made it through the holidays while maintaining my weight loss perfectly. I recommend myfitnesspal to everybody who asks how we did it. Good job, Gus. You look great!
99 percenters??? [See “The 1 percent that used to be,” GUESTWORK by Nick Capo, Jan. 5.]
This moniker is getting so overused that it’s a joke! The class envy and class warfare seems to be the political and editorial flavor of the day, month, year.
Mr. Capo seems to be included in the “ironies abound” of which he writes.
Here’s my response to his last question, “Why do so many of the so-called 99 percent visit the Biltmore?” People go there because there is no such thing as a 99 percenter except in the minds of those who promote class envy. I thank all those people who are open-minded and not filled with envy and hate for those better than themselves which keep that fictional number in the low teens instead of 99 percent.