In light of California's budget crunch, the Washington Post reminded us here and here that crisis can mean, well, opportunity. Though California's predicament is the most severe, it is by no means an isolated one.
To address ubiquitous budget problems, strapped states are now looking to save money through their prison systems. Indeed, corrections budgets, usually quite large, are being considered by several states for cuts. This move is not always a politically easy task, as no one when pressed is willing to sacrifice public safety by hastily chopping corrections budgets.
So what if we can save money and make our communities safer?
As Stateline.org suggests, the economic crisis is providing new political momentum to bring innovative reforms to the table that can go a long way in reducing recidivism--and keeping expensive prison beds only for people who truly need to sleep in them.
Lest the terms "cost savings" and "public safety" become sterile, let's not forget that public safety means transformed lives--individuals who are empowered to avoid the revolving door of crime and begin contributing to their communities. In the interest of not only saving money but also helping offenders turn their lives around, Justice Fellowship is one of many organizations working with policymakers in the states to make the most of this crisis-induced opportunity.
To learn more about promising criminal justice reforms, read my colleague Karen Williams's recent piece in Prison Fellowship's Inside/Out Magazine and Pat Nolan's feature at Bacon's Rebellion.