Price discusses price of justice
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Missouri is spending far too much on putting people in prisons when it could benefit more from alternative sentences for most non-violent offenders, state Supreme Court Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr. told lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.
“From the 1980s, in Missouri and across the nation,” Price said during the annual State of the Judiciary address, “we attempted to incarcerate our way out of crime and illegal drug use.
“We were tough on crime, but we were not smart on crime.”
As a result, Missouri’s prison population expanded more than five times, from 5,953 inmates in 1982 to 30,432 inmates by 2009, Price said.
And the Corrections Department budget exploded more than 12 times, from $55 million in 1982 to $665 million in 2009.
“For violent criminals, who endanger innocent men, women and children, there may be little choice,” Price said. “But for many of the 14,700 nonviolent offenders, this prison-based strategy is not working and it is costing us an arm and a leg.”