March 08, 2005

Parole Reversal

New article, by me, up at about America's dysfunctional prisoner parole system. It's based on a good book on the subject, with some extra research thrown in, and the wonk factor is pretty high, but hopefully it's of interest. Plus a punny title, for which I can take no credit. (Though I endorsed it, so I'll take the blame!)

What's intriguing about the "how to shrink prisons" debate going on across the country right now, I think, is that it's incredibly hard for good policy to prevail. There are all sorts of countervailing factors in favor of prison growth—unions, private prisons, rural development concerns, "tough on crime" sentiments—that have nothing whatsoever to do with actually keeping crime down. Then there's the legislative obstacle: no state legislator wants to tell her constituents that she's increasing spending on prisoner rehabilitation at a time when cuts are being made to health care and education, even if rehabilitation does save money in the long run. So you sort of have to sneak in sensible reforms. Fortunately it seems possible, in this case, to sneak sensible reforms past people.
-- Brad Plumer 3:20 AM || ||