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Oregon Has 1 in 33 Under Correctional Control March 9, 2009

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

One in every 33 Oregon adults is under correctional control and the state spends far more for those in prisons and jails than it does for those on probation and parole, according to a new study.

The Pew Center on the States released a comprehensive report on the nation’s correctional system Monday. According to the study, states are pouring millions upon million of dollars into correctional systems to deal with the growing criminal populations, and Oregon is no different.

In fiscal year 2008, corrections accounted for more than 10 percent of the state’s total budget.

Of the tens and thousands of people under correctional control in Oregon, about a quarter are in prison or jail. For every dollar the state spends on those behind bars it spends only 27 cents for those under community supervision, according to the study.

"Incarceration understandably costs more. Prisons must house, feed and provide medical care to the most dangerous offenders," the report states. "But the price gap is nevertheless staggering."

Rep. Chip Shields, a Portland Democrat, has advocated for spending reform in the past and said the study only proves the system needs to be overhauled and priorities rethought.

"None of this, frankly, surprises me because I’ve been trying to tell Oregonians we’re on an unsustainable trajectory," Shields said. "We need to restore balance to our public safety system."

Part of doing that, both he and the Pew Center say, would mean taking money that currently goes toward locking up the lowest-risk inmates and directing it to better quality community supervision.

The study blames the ballooning number, in part, on various minimum-sentence measures.




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