Thursday, November 5, 2009

There's waiting . . . and then there's waiting

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we’re anxiously waiting for my son to come home. He now has about 10 months left to serve in the Arizona Department of Corrections and we can hardly wait until he’s home with his family.

But if you don’t live in Arizona, you may not be aware that the state hasn’t balanced the budget for 2010 yet, and many budget cut options have been discussed in recent months. Especially for the Department of Corrections, one of the state’s largest expenses.

Some possible cost-cutting options: privatization, expansion of the state’s house arrest program, sending short-term inmates to counties to serve their sentences, closing entire facilities and various units throughout the state, and rewriting the sentencing code to reduce sentences and allow for early releases.

Other states are facing the same dilemma and the Pew Center on the States has released an updated report, The Fiscal Crisis in Corrections: Rethinking Policies and Practices. Check it out for an informative look at how states are dealing with this problem.

Two major issues are: how should Corrections deal with the recidivism problem that sends so many probationers and parolees back to prison? And release policies--how long should sentences really be?

There are no easy answers, and chances are, wherever you live, your state is facing similar challenges. The solutions have major implications for those convicted of crimes, their families, and society-at-large.

I urge you to familiarize yourself with the issues and to contact your state representatives about the situation where you live.

And while we’re anticipating my son will be home in about 10 months, if he were released early, it would just be an added blessing for all of us who love him and are waiting for his release.

Yes, there’s waiting and then there’s waiting.