Prison Downsizing Implementation in New York State
Darlene R. Muller
Policy Implementation: Spring 2013
New York State has been in financial crisis for a long time. Numerous plans, policies and budget cuts have been proposed and enacted to attempt to save money, and no public service or government agency has been overlooked. One of areas where most attention is drawn is to the corrections system. A large portion of New York’s budget is spent on housing, supervising, and rehabilitating inmates. There are many who believe this is wasteful, but what is the solution to the dilemma? Public safety must be ensured, as well as the rights the inmates and accused are entitled to.
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This created a reduction in prison population. Cooperation of several agencies are credited for any success the Kansas programs have had. (Rengifo, 2010)
Integration of outside agencies, and ‘street-level’ bureaucrat’s aids in attempting to change the focus of the corrections system from immediate and temporary solution, to an attempt to rehabilitate, reintegrate and reduce recidivism. Legislation and policy implementation took place to reclassify crimes and risk factors to reassess the needs and minimum disciplinary actions necessary to rehabilitate prisoners. (Rengifo, 2010)
The amount of study involved in the ability of such policy ideas to meet their intended goals is astonishing. Each possible idea must be tested and theorized to ensure that fiscal goals are met, and there is no increased risk to society.
There have been several proposed ideas throughout the country. In some case mandatory minimum sentences have been put in place, others have mandated drug treatment in place of incarceration. Many states have spent a large allotment of their corrections budgets solely on studies to optimize their resources in the midst of such a financial crisis, mixed with rising prison populations. Parole and probation have been readdressed in some states, with much more responsibility placed upon the offender after release. This approach can save costs, or hurt cost with an increase in recidivism rates. On the other side of this fact, another idea was to redirect those in violation of parole or probation conditions, in another fashion than to place them directly back into the prison population. Also address are early release programs. (Jacobson, 2005) Each idea has merit, but again, significant information must be gathered to assess both the savings, and the public safety.
A large portion of reform and cost savings has been focused upon classifying the offenders housed in these prisons. In 2000, it was assessed that less than half of all inmates were convicted of violent crimes. Prison classification systems rated more than 40% of all inmates as minimum risk. The public and many prison personnel favor treatment in lieu of prison time for the vast majority of these offenders, who are often convicted of drug related crimes. (Greene & Schiraldi, 2002)
New York has in the past looked at alternatives in punishment as well. “Shock Incarceration” began in New York in 1987. Tailored to those who fit a profile likely to meet success, these programs are short and rehabilitative in nature. Often referred to as ‘boot camps’ they combine discipline and treatment in a unique way, with close supervision and communication between the inmate, parole...