Yesterday I was reading the findings recently released by the Urban Institute. In this release they outlined the most effective ways to reduce the size and cost of overcrowded prisons. The report indicated that a mixture of reforms to sentencing, prosecution, and early release policies were the ultimate solution.

The beginning option would curb future growth by reducing the number of new prisoners and issuing shorter sentences. The ending approach would ease overcrowding by releasing prisoners early or transferring them to community correction facilities.

It is very clear that neither option in and of itself will actually make a great difference in decreasing the crisis in the criminal justice system. However, together, both methods could perhaps make a significant difference.

Here in Alabama our prison overcrowding problem will not be solved by simply throwing funds at new facilities. The state must continue to address the root cause with sentencing reform and by enacting existing legislation to improve the probation and parole programs. If the state's 14 present prisons are consolidated into six facilities, including a new women's prison, the state Department of Corrections  will be able to better manage its cost of operations.

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