Do more prisons mean less crime?

North Kern State Prison, one of 33 adult institutions in California.

After 30 years of prison boom in the United States, people are starting to question the usefulness of incarcerating large numbers of people, especially for less serious crimes. In New York, where prison populations skyrocketed after the state passed a series of tough sentencing laws for drug offenders, recent changes have dramatically reduced the prison population. In California, budget woes and federal lawsuits have inspired things like the introduction of non-revocable parole and an expansion in good-time credits for prison inmates–both policies designed to cut down the prison population.

Now, Governor Jerry Brown wants to do more. The current budget calls for less restrictive supervision for a whole host of lower level crimes. That means that fewer crimes carry the penalty of state prison, fewer people getting out go under the strict supervision of state parole, and those that violate parole would likely not go back to prison for the violation.

The Parole Agent Association is starting to push back against these changes–because less parole means the elimination of jobs, but also because parole agents and correctional officers believe in what they do.

Continue reading at our criminal justice blog, the Informant