Prisonpath has posted several article about better options for nonviolent inmates. More and more states are finally realizing that overcrowded prisons are caused by incarcerating too many nonviolent inmates. Our February posting on overcrowded prisons cited the absurd statistics on our excessively high inmate population. We are number one in the world for the largest inmate population. More and more Americans are also concluding that prisons and jails should not be the disposition for most nonviolent offenders. An agenda emphasizing strict probation, home confinement, and rehabilitative programs for nonviolent offenders, will reduce the problem of prison overcrowding and curtail the high rate of recidivism. Our officials are looking at better alternatives for nonviolent offenders than prison. Derrick Schofield, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction, stated in The Tennessean,
“All across the country, there is growing consensus for this type of change. A recent Pew Center on the States public opinion survey found that Americans believe too many people are in prison and the nation spends too much on imprisonment. Respondents to the survey also overwhelmingly support a variety of policy changes that shift non-violent offenders from prison to more effective, less expensive alternatives. States that have reduced their prison populations without releasing inmates were able to do so by investing in community alternatives. The time has come for Tennessee to create solid community alternatives that are based on best practices and national trends.
We believe, without a doubt, the people who have wreaked havoc on our communities and taken lives should be behind bars, and we want to reserve our prison beds for those violent offenders. For the non-violent offenders, such as those with substance abuse problems, the time has come for us to rethink how we supervise those who could benefit from programs in the community rather than time in prison.
We know we cannot continue to lock up every person who breaks the law, but we can take actions that hold them accountable and have been shown to make a difference.”