Pubdate: Sun, 01 Dec 2002
Source: Salisbury Post (NC)
Copyright: 2002 Post Publishing Co.
Author: Tony Ramsay


The overcrowding in our prisons comes from long sentences for non-violent 
offenders. Yet there are proposals to raise punishment levels for people in 
this group.

This costs taxpayers $35,000 a year per inmate and creates a perfect system 
for making it more likely that inmates return to prison. When released, 
inmates receive a $45 check and have a felony record, plus parole fees to 
pay, restitution to make and often a family to support. Finding a decent 
job is essential if they are to stay out of prison. To make ends meet, many 
return to selling drugs or other crimes.

It's a fact that inmates with a trade or skill seldom return to prison. It 
costs approximately $8,000 to teach an inmate a trade, versus $35,000 to 
incarcerate one for a year. Yet trade schools for inmates and rehab centers 
are being eliminated, making it more likely inmates will be repeat offenders.

Nonviolent offenders make up about 53 percent of the prison population. 
North Carolina has spent $400 million building new prisons and expects more 
growth over the current 33,800 inmates. They have created a system that 
will produce that growth. Educating the large number of non-violent 
offenders would save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Taxpayers need 
to recognize that something is wrong here and demand changes.

Only then will taxpayers feel relief from being overtaxed.

- -- Tony Ramsay

Warren Correctional Institution
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