By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The economy since 2007 has not been kind to the state’s General Fund Budget and this fact has resulted in cuts too most state services covered under the Alabama General fund, including the prison system. The prison system has cut costs to the point that Alabama spends less money per prisoner than any other state.
Senator Paul Bussman (R) from Cullman discuss this situation on Facebook with his constituents. Sen. Bussman wrote,
“I have been asked about the overcrowded conditions in the prison system and options to deal with the extreme overcrowding. Overcrowding doesn’t necessarily bother me – it is prison- but it does bother the Federal gov’t. They have shown over the years a willingness to do mass releases to reduce the overpopulation. California was the last to be forced to do this, I believe. So we have to address the situation.”
Sen. Bussman continued, “Part of the problem with the reluctance to deal with the problem is the fact that politicians will be accused of being soft on crime – a killer politically, just ask Mike Dukakis. We continue to add legislation for mandatory jail time on crimes and have no place to put them. Unfortunately, many of our minor offenders go to jail/prison and learn how to do other, more serious crimes from the masters of crime – some call it ‘crime college’. I am presently looking at a work release program to reduce the prison population.”
Sen. Bussman said, “Many of our prisoners are non-violent drug offenders. They should be on a different program then the violent offenders. If they can live at home, required to report for work Mon – Fri at a specific location in the county, they would take a huge burden off the system. So let’s say each county has 50 work release members, they are then organized to go out and work, either working with local communities or the county. If an inmate can get regular verifiable employment then they are exempt from the program. Should they lose the job, they return to the work release program. If they fail to show up for the program, their work release privileges are eliminated and they return to the jail or prison.”
The Cullman State Senator wrote, “I can see this group of 50 folks moving across the county, helping each community with needed labor, mowing, construction, etc. We would not have trash all over the highways and communities. We would not see kudzu encroaching on our roads. We would not see waist high grass in abandoned lots. The community can benefit from their work and we can safely reduce our prison population. The other things that can be done is expanding the program presently administered by Judge Chaney to give offenders a second chance with drug screening and regular court appearances. These are just a few of the options. I am open to any other reasonable suggestions. Are there better options?? Give me your input and I bet we can find a good safe solution.”
The United States has 2.4 million Americans behind bars…..quadruple the number in 1980. The United States routinely leads the world in its incarceration rate. Critics argue that many of those prisoners could be better served out of prison.