One way to save money immediately is with early releases of a limited number of inmates who do not pose a risk and are nearing the end of their sentences.
But that plan was undercut by legislators who didn’t understand it.
The Department of Corrections said 300 inmates might be eligible for the program. With taxpayers spending almost $40,000 per year per inmate, the savings would be substantial.
Then, Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said 50 of the inmates might be dangerous, so the program should be scrapped.
Harper forgot one aspect of the proposal. Each inmate’s case and prison record would be reviewed by the Board of Executive Clemency to see if early release was appropriate.
And state Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, said no one should be released early from prison because those former inmates would compete for jobs at a time when the state unemployment rate is 7.8 percent.
Neither of these legislators understands that the amount we spend on prisons can be reduced – responsibly.