Mississippi Department of Corrections, Budget Cuts & Plea Negotiations

The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) has announced that it will release some inmates early, and place others on house arrest, in an effort to cut costs.  An excerpt from today's Clarion Ledger story:

About 300 state inmates will be removed from county jails, 154 from regional jails and 50 from private prisons beginning as early as January as the Mississippi Department of Corrections trims its budget by $6.5 million.

MDOC will further reduce cost by increasing the number of inmates on house arrest and parole. Roughly 1,225 inmates are on house arrest and 3,000 are on parole.

"We have sent a list of 2,900 nonviolent inmates to the Parole Board," Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said of those who could be considered for early parole.

The cost of housing inmates is substantial, and I find it encouraging in these slow economic times that MDOC plans to increase the number of inmates in "alternative" incarceration (such as house arrest).  The Department's own figures show that these programs are substantially less expensive than traditional incarceration.  According to MDOC numbers from the 2007 fiscal year housing an inmate at Parchman costs $45.48 per day, while the Intensive Supervision Program (house arrest) costs just $9.96 per day.  Clearly a cost savings of $35.52 per day (Yes, I did the math for you.) is substantial.  The cost difference between housing an inmate for one year in Parchman versus one year on house arrest?  $12,964.80.

Why is this story important?  First, I certainly support the early release of inmates to cut costs - in fact, I'd support the decision even if we weren't in a terrible economic crises.  Second, I represent clients charged with various felonies, many of whom are eligible for house arrest.  Further, in many of those cases house arrest may be the desired outcome for my client (and for the taxpayer!).  In those cases where plea negotiations are appropriate, this decision by MDOC may prove to be an additional bargaining tool with the prosecutor or judge.

What did you think of this article?

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  • 11 January 2009, 11:04 AM dianne switcher wrote:
    my husband Cranston Switcher t0381 has been at Parchman for almost 9 years.He happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.Reginald Moss killed his ex-wife.He admitted to doing it all.He made my husband drive the vehicle belonging to his ex-wife to a place where Reginald took her out of his vehicle and put her body in her own vehicle then set the vehicle on fire.Cranston got 20 years for his part of the crime.(driving the vehicle).he was told that if he would talk against Reginald and plea to culpable negligence they would give him 8 years with 5 suspended and three to serve and was also told it was not a violent crime.but then they added manslaughter to it and it is violent.The judge gave him the 20 years 15 to serve 5 on probation.he has only had 2 minor RVR's one for hanging a towel over a window to dry when he fist got there and another for writing me a letter on colored paper.I think that you should consider helping some inmates like him instead of always helping the drug offenders that will get out and back on the street and sell drugs to our children again.He is only months away from getting out and it looks to me like you could put inmates like him on house arrest, early release or something to help out on the cost and overcrowding.Please look into this situation. Thanks Dianne Switcher
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  • 19 January 2009, 3:49 PM kita wrote:
    yes this so true an inmate with manslaughter charges should have same priviliges as a drug dealer drugs are just as worst put them on house arrest to look beyond there and consider there needs use yourself as an example if u havent walked or stood in there shoes then u cant feel there pain have mercy upon them lead them not into temptation but remember to deliver them from all evil my husband is locked up in the copunty jail and all i want is for him to come home
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  • 15 January 2010, 12:11 AM Teresa wrote:
    I think house arrest for nonviolent crimes is a great way to save our state money. Most importantly for the young men who either committed a crime because of peer pressure or got caught in the wrong place or either just simply made the wrong choice should be given a second chance to get their self together. House arrest is just like serving time because the person is confined at home. House arrest will allow the parents or guardians to continue to take care of that individual. I think if that individual was at home the parents or guardian will have the opportunity to continue to teach and guide that individual. That person would have to listen and abide by the rules of the house because he or she would not want to be locked up behind bars. I think after a person serve house arrest should be responsible for community service too. We have to teach and show people how to make the right decisions instead of the wrong decisions. I rather teach a person how to get a job and take care of himself or herself instead of spending my tax payers dollars to take care of them. I know we can not save everybody. But I do know there are many people men and women who have good hearts and just need a second chance to make something out of their life. I think if we can offer house arrest, community service, or probation that will give misguided people a chance or hope that they can still have a productive life. Our jails and correction centers are overcrowded. Plus locking of these teenagers are letting some parents off the hook from parenting their children. I think house arrest will force some parents to spend time with their young adult and it will continue to make the parents provide the child with what they need. For the young adults while they are on house arrest if they do not have their GED or high school diploma require them to get it. Most people have a computer. Since the person is on house arrest, he or she will have plenty of time to study. This will allow most of the people on house arrest to get a better paying job to one day help provide for themselves. I think we definitely have to do things different with the generation we have today. We have to continue to pray and read the bible to see what will God or Jesus want us to do. God want us to forgive and help others. I think 85% of people that are in jail or correctional facility has the potential to do right. I think with a little guidance and teaching some of the people can be helped. We can not keep doing the same things that we did in the olden days. If we do we will continue to get the same results. We must do things different to get different results. I think, no I am sorry, I know what you all have suggested will work for most of our people who in jail. We can not save them all, but I know we save the majority. I agree with the decision.
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