Pubdate: Fri, 06 Sep 2002
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2002 Detroit Free Press
Author: Barbara R. Levine
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Your Sept. 1 editorial about spending on prisons instead of education was 
right on the money ("Prison Precedence: State should be building 
opportunities, not more cellblocks, for minority men"). There is no 
question that investing in children -- for preschool; K-12; medical, mental 
health and nutritional care; and preventing abuse and neglect -- is the 
long-term solution to crime.

Constant prison expansion is not a solution to crime even in the short run. 
Contrary to political rhetoric, we are not paying to keep ourselves safe 
from the 50,000 most dangerous people in Michigan. Hundreds of millions of 
dollars go to locking up property and drug offenders, aging prisoners with 
medical problems, people with good institutional records who are being kept 
far longer than their sentencing judges intended, and probationers and 
parolees who have violated the terms of their supervision but who have not 
committed new crimes.

We lock up the mentally ill, the addicted and the illiterate instead of 
investing more in mental health treatment, substance abuse prevention and 

The enormous growth in corrections spending has resulted from deliberate 
policy choices that should be publicly debated and assessed for their 
cost-effectiveness, not their emotional appeal.

Barbara R. Levine, Executive Director, Citizens Alliance on Prisons and 
Public Safety Lansing
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager