Monday, February 28, 2005

We have too many people in jail. And we can't afford it.

First, congratulations to the anti-patronage reformers on the Cook County Board who muscled through a budget that didn't resort to higher taxes. There's plenty of patronage to weed out in Cook County, and the majority of commissioners are now (at least this week) on the side of efficient government.

But, our jails and prisons are ridiculously overcrowded, and all those bodies cost a lot of money. I heard the estimate is something like 20 grand annually for every inmate.

Meanwhile, the per-student cost at Chicago Public Schools is around $7,000.

We ought to stop locking people up so much.

Especially for possession of soft drugs like pot.

It's not a good sign that the Medical Marijuana bill didn't get out of committee a few weeks ago. I wonder how a Decriminalize Pot bill would fare. And I wonder what the fiscal note on that would be ("Not locking up non-violent pot smokers is estimated to save the state $400 million annually).

The Cook County budget next year might depend on a sane drug policy. . . .

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

When you propose your 2005 Prisoner Release Program, make sure you say "brought to you by Illinois Progressives and the Democratic Party." People love that stuff. Did you see that Lebanon is having a democratic revolution, Saudi Arabia is letting women vote and Egypt is permitting multiple parties in its next election? Bush is such a moron. - CF

Anonymous said...

1500 US soldiers dead. WMD anyone? Halliburon still grows fat on no-bid contracts. Violence continues to escalate. Military missing recruiting goals. 500,000 homeless veterans. Soldiers docked pay for being dead. Iran has nukes. North Korea has nukes. Our good friends in Pakistan sold nuke secrets. Osama bin Laden still hanging around. Afghanistan, in spite of elections, is a lawless hellhole, ruled by drug cartels and warlords. And how about Iraqi oil profits funding this "$80 billion, and not a cent more" war?

Yeah, things are great. Lebanon is fighting off Syria -- good thing too, because we're using them to torture suspects, so we are a paper tiger when it comes to criticizing them. Egypt is permitting an up/down vote on Mubarek (and lets take bets on where that goes -- not that Mubarek is even a problem for us). And Saudi Arabia, our crack dealer and home of most of the 9/11 hijackers -- they're on the cusp of a liberal democracy, no doubt.

What else does Sean Hannity tell you to talk about?

FightforJustice said...

Since we can't even get medical marijuana through committee (the federal drug czar showed up to testify against it), decriminalization would have zero chance.

Our prison population continues growing even as the crime rate has been declining for years. It deserves attention, but pot isn't a significant cause.