Prisons Revolving Door Returns - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/20/05

Prisons Revolving Door Returns

Lubbock County Sheriff David Gutierrez has seen it before, the revolving door syndrome; as one prisoner comes in, another needs to go out. The Sheriff agrees that our prison systems are in a major dilemma, which is why they're asking the legislature for $55-million that would go to 500 new beds, new probation staff, and more intensive treatment programs.

If they don't get the money, the Sheriff says we could see criminals back on our streets with little to no punishment. "We are sending the message to criminals that crime pays, there's no deterrent."

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Sheriff Gutierrez has been through it before, seeing criminals getting sent to jail just to be released far before their sentence ends. The early 90's revolving door worked like this, a prisoner sentenced for one year would serve about 28 days and then be released. A ten year sentence meant one year in jail.

One solution Sheriff and others are backing might be a pro-active probation. "When people go to prison, there is no country club in Texas, usually when you come out it's bitter not better."

Steve Henderson believes keeping people out of prison would be the best solution, but to accomplish that they need the $55-million in funding to reduce their case load from 120 cases per officer to 95.

The taxpayer might agree that probation is the way to go. Right now we pay 97-cents for each criminal a day for probation costs. Sending someone to jail costs us $44 a person a day.

To close the revolving door on crime, both Sheriff Gutierrez and Steve Henderson believe in pro-active probation, but now they're relying on the state to open the financial door.

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