Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I have many resolutions this year, including spending more time with Max (who’s now 19-months old), making more movies, doing more standup comedy, and finding time (somehow!) to ski at least a few days this winter.

Politically, I’m working on many issues. And one of my big legislative resolutions is to pass a bill that accomplishes three things: (1) make Vermont communities safer, (2) save taxpayer dollars (particularly on prison expenses), and (3) encourage alternatives to incarceration for many of our locked up Vermonters. Doing all three at once will be the jackpot, not only because of making such measures politically successful, but also because all three goals go hand-in-hand.

What many people don't realize is that putting more people in jail doesn't necessarily make us safer. That's partly because most of the people in prison get out. The vast majority only serve a year or two. And more than half of them end up back in prison within three years of getting released.

What we do not need is repeat "customers" for our prisons. Instead, let's find a way to get to the root causes of why so many of them continually commit crimes. For many of them, it's related to an alcohol or drug addiction that they have.

New laws and community programs will save us all money in the long run, and will make Vermont a better, safer, and more humane place to live.

Last week was the first one for the Legislature, which runs Jan. to May, give or take a couple of weeks. Campaign finance reform and renewable energy are among many hot issues to watch out for.

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At January 15, 2008 5:34 PM, Anonymous John said...

"Putting more people in jail doesn't necessarily make us safer"? There's a lot of objective data out there to support the proposition that putting more criminals behind bars makes the public safer.

At January 28, 2008 9:12 AM, Anonymous Jason from Fl. said...

Putting more people in jail does not make any society safer. Putting repeat and violent offenders in jail does. Let's take drug users for an example. Someone caught for a simple possession (not a dealer just a user) could face a few years begind bars. Instead of sending that person to jail, you send them to rehab. During rehab, they are on probations and their monthly payments help fund the rehab. You can argue that rehab may only have a 25% success rate (I'm guessing). Well, I would bet that is a better success rate then a person going to prison and then being released with no treatment.


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