Cuyahoga County Building Prisons - Netherlands to Close Prisons: Not Enough Criminals

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 09/03/2010 - 14:00.

Figure 1 shows projected Ohio prison inmate population growth through July 2012 (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, July 2009)

I noticed an interesting link from a few Facebook friends to the Marijuana Policy Project website at "Netherlands to Close Prisons: Not Enough Criminals", which reports "The Dutch government is getting ready to close eight prisons because they don’t have enough criminals to fill them. Officials attribute the shortage of prisoners to a declining crime rate." MPP points out, with glee... "For years prohibitionists, including our own Drug Enforcement Administration, have claimed — falsely — that the tolerant marijuana policies of the Netherlands have made that nation a nest of crime and drug abuse."

Based on a quick illustrative analysis of data provided by MPP of the prison populations of the Netherlands and California... I calculated the imprisonment rate for Ohio, with a baseline population of 11.5 million people, if we had the incarceration rates of the Netherlands. Ohio would have a prison population of about 8,000 people.

In fact, in mid 2008, Ohio's incarceration (or imprisonment) rate, which is calculated from counts of incarcerated persons per 100,000 total residents, was 445 (Bureau of Justice Statistics) - representing a prison population of over 51,000 - more than 6x the incarceration rate in the Netherlands - costing Ohio over $1.6 BILLION per year.

Worse, as posted April 27, 2010, on Crime Reporter - "Ohio prison crowding at crisis stage" - "the Ohio General Assembly allowed the state prison budget to grow this year, despite looming multi-billion-dollar budget deficits. Ohio’s statewide inmate population climbed within 128 inmates of the all-time record of 51,273 this month, prompting state lawmakers and Gov. Ted Strickland to blame one another for inaction."

What action may Ohio lawmakers have in mind for reducing the prison population and multi-billion dollar deficit of Ohio, that compares to what I propose - what the Netherlands proves right - Making Northeast Ohio the Open Source Capital of the Brightest Greenest State of Earth - which would generate $ billions per year in fresh green tax revenues for Ohio, and immediately give cause to reduce prison populations in Ohio by likely 10,000s (e.g. lock ups for marijuana-related charges).... and eliminate 1,000s of admissions a year in the future. The cost savings - and revenue opportunities - to the state and local governments will be astounding.

The Ohio State Penitentiary reports direct daily per inmate costs of $146.16, being annual costs of $53,348 PER INMATE.... being a small fraction of the justice system costs that exceed $1.6 BILLION in Ohio for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction alone...

Obviously, these costs do not reflect the other costs and burdens on families and society from unnecessary incarceration... and still these costs to taxpayers are staggering. What a family in Northeast Ohio couldn't do with $53,348 extra per year, at home...

What the state of Ohio couldn't do with an extra 530 MILLION-DOLLARS per year saved by each 10,000 inmate (20%) reduction in the current prison population, at that daily cost. Drop it 40% - 20,000 inmates - save a cool BILLION PER YEAR in direct prison costs of government... and serve more free citizens better!

Current Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction data and projections show Ohio prisons have a rated capacity of 38,665 - meaning we are currently operating at 13,000 inmates above capacity... and are projecting to operate at 17,000 over capacity by 2018. We actually need to reduce prison populations by over 10,000 inmates just to be legal and effective... or spend $ billions more building more prison capacity (or "privatize" for the capacity, at comparable costs).

The National Institute of Corrections reports the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction operates 33 facilities, contracts with 2 private prisons, and has 13,938 employees. The agency's annual budget is over $1.6 billion. For 51,000 prisoners, that is $31,372 per state inmate per year. Of course, there are other costs included in this, and beyond this...

The NIC reports, "Throughout Ohio's 88 counties there are 118 jail facilities with a combined rated capacity of 20,052 inmates. A state jail inspection and standards program is administered by the Ohio Bureau of Adult Detention, part of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction." And, "The Division of Parole and Community Services, part of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, provides statewide parole services and probation services in 43 counties. In 45 counties, local court probation agencies supervise probationers. There are 260,962 probationers and 19,119 parolees."

Most important, note, NIC reports only about 9% of the inmates incarcerated in Ohio are held for VIOLENT CRIMES - JUST 9%.

And, what percentage of those 9% of crimes were committed by people who were just too toxic and damaged by society to function at the time, and really just needed to get high... or couldn't find a legal way to make a living, but would succeed and enjoy working in the cannabis industries?

Our prisons should have less than half their current populations, saving perhaps $1 billion per year.

Now, imagine the cost savings just at the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County levels of government, in reduced police, admissions, processing, court, incarceration and reentry costs, to be realized by legalizing and taxing cannabis here.

From NRC Handelsblad, in the Netherlands -

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry's research department expects to continue for some time.

Belgian prisoners

Some reprieve might come from a deal with Belgium, which is facing overpopulation in its prisons. The two countries are working out an agreement to house Belgian prisoners in Dutch prisons. Some five-hundred Belgian prisoners could be transferred to the Tilburg prison by 2010.

The Netherlands would get 30 million euros in the deal, and it will allow the closing of the prisons in Rotterdam and Veenhuizen to be postponed until 2012.

So Ohio may reduce our imprisonment rates and eventually generate revenues offering prison services for other states not so bright green.

Compare our Brightest Greenest vision with the reality currently proposed by Ohio lawmakers, as projected in "Ohio Prison Population Projections and Intake Estimates FY 2010 - FY 2018", prepared by the Bureau of Research, Office of Policy and Offender Reentry, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, July 2009 - linked as PDF here:

Figure 1 (at top of posting) also shows projected population growth through July 2012. Annual projected growth for the entire nine-year forecast period is presented in Table 1 (below). The population is expected to continue to grow modestly over the next biennium, assuming present practices and sentencing patterns continue, no extra diversionary beds become available, and key reform proposals remain on hold: over 51,700 inmates by July 1, 2010, increasing to 52,546 by July 2011. This represents a total population increase of nearly three percent over the next two years. Female population levels are expected to grow by about nine percent over the same period, to 4,250 inmates by July 2011. Table 1 also shows the number of additional beds that would be required to reduce crowding ratios down to 123% (and 115%) of rated capacity, a recent low point achieved in early 2005.

Not bright - not green.

Time for THIS KEY REFORM PROPOSAL, Ohio.... time to Go Dutch... time to build greenhouses to eliminate prison overcrowding, costs and future capacity needs, if for no other reasons...

But, there are so many other reasons for this...

This will be the Cuyahoga River Industrial Valley, in Cleveland, if Northeast Ohio becomes the
Open Source Capital of the Brightest Greenest State of Earth

... like generating the tax revenues to eliminate the pollution from major toxic release point sources (that harm citizens, making them more likely to end up in prison), like from Arcelor/Mittal, shown below:

Arcelor/Mittal Cleveland Works, poisoning 2.5 million Northeast Ohio residents daily, making them more likely to become criminals
 

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