Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What ya' gonna' do?

One of the huge mysteries at the legislature is what to do about prisons. You may have heard that the latest projections give us an increase in total population of 2500 inmates by 2010. That will bring the prison population to somewhere over 16,000.

Our correction facilities are filing up faster than our closest neighbors. The cost of keeping bad boys and girls behind bars is about $250 million a year. Honest. I am not making that up. It was in the Democrat-Gazette, so there.

All sorts of lame ideas concerning drug courts and such are floating around, which is a beginning. We all ought to be wondering why a mere user would be facing time anyway. I cannot begin to say that the prisons are full of dope smokers, but I will say that, if drugs were decriminalized, the price would fall out the floor immediately. That also means that the profit would disappear and the criminal businesses which sell them would move on to something else.

Let’s start at the low end, say with marijuana. If that seems like a bad idea, I am open to any suggestions that might reduce the booming prison population. If somebody does not get creative fast, Arkansas will soon be forking over a cool half-billion bucks every year.

(Broadcast March 13, 2007)

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