MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

June 29, 2013

Sentencing can curb overcrowding

Solving the overcrowding problem in our state’s prison system requires an overhaul of sentencing guidelines and embracing alternative sentences.

The number of convicts in our prison system is growing — 641 more prisoners than this time last year.

As prison chief Justin Jones told the Board of Corrections on the way out the door to retirement, the overcrowding creates increased medical costs, a lack of bed space and a backup of offenders in the state’s county jails.

Jones is right.

More prisoners absolutely increases those issues.

Unless the state Legislature decides to throw money at the issue, the issues will continue to grow.

Legislators must becomes more proactive in reducing the prison population through reasonable means that protect citizens first and foremost.

Legislators should not consider releasing prisoners before their time has been served if they are convicted of violent crimes.

Early release puts society at risk.

That’s not a risk worth taking.

Some criminals deserve punishment because some crimes require justice.

Some criminals, however, deserve a shot at rehabilitation.

First-time offenders convicted of drug possession should be given a chance at rehabilitation first.

It is in society’s best interest to rehabilitate people convicted of crimes.

That is not always possible or even advisable.

If a chance exists to rehabilitate a person convicted of a non-violent crime, we should at least seriously consider something other than a prison cell.

If a person’s behavior puts themselves at risk, we should consider rehabilitation.

If a person’s behavior puts others at risk, we should require prison time.

Jail time should be used as a deterrent for those given an opportunity at rehabilitation.

Knowing your next address is a prison might motivate your recovery.

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