Doug Berman's getting lyrical at Sentencing Law and Policy with his take on NY's announcement of prison closures because the state has figured out how to get crime down without requiring crime victims first (and with his note that this aggravates the politicians who require crime and victims for their self-interests and careers, no surprise really). But I was actually more impressed with his catch of the KY story on its prison pop problems (and with the list of stories from a bunch of other states with the same crippling problems) and put off by the new governor's quote: New Gov. Steve Beshear concedes that he doesn't have answers. Beshear spared the Corrections Department from the current round of state budget cuts, but it's unlikely to get additional money. "I'm not sure what to do at the moment," Beshear said. Now, yes, he admits that rehab is one thing to do, but that, oh, the humanity, there's just no money . . . because the state is funneling dollar after dollar into frequently counterproductive incarceration.
But consider the juxtaposition of the two stories. It's just NOT TRUE that there aren't answers. NY is proof. So are the study after study, evaluation after evaluation showing the crime reduction at lower cost payoff for a wide range of options other than prisons by academics and by those fine folks at the WA State Institute for Public Policy.
It's not that there aren't answers. There aren't the guts and the right frames to take on the BS and the vested interests among politicians, media, and business to keep our prison pops and crime and victim rates climbing. Until we figure out how to get on top of those things, that list of states in Doug's post will just keep getting longer and longer.