July 9th, 2009
05:53 PM ET

Releasing prisoners early a good way to save states money?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

No doubt, tough economic times call for tough decisions and some thinking outside the box.

So in an effort to relieve budget woes, the Governor of Illinois is proposing the early release of up to 10,000 prisoners. The move would reportedly save taxpayers $125 million a year and result in layoffs for 1,000 corrections employees.

It would also put thousands of convicts on the streets. But have no fear, officials say it would only be those deemed by the state as non-threatening, who have less than a year left to serve.

Critics say it's just a scheme by the Governor to scare people into supporting an increase in income tax. But Illinois isn't the only state to consider such a move. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a similar proposal in California to save that state $180 million by releasing undocumented inmates, among others.

In the past, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Kentucky have considered such plans too, and Mississippi is actually doing it.

Critics argue that public safety isn't the place to slash the budget. Then there is also the issue of whether or not a Governor has the authority to release thousands of inmates whose sentences were imposed by a judge after they were convicted in a court of law.

Here’s my question to you: Is releasing prisoners early a good way for states to save money?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Tom from Dubuque, Iowa writes:
Jack, it may be a good way to save money short term, but long term not a good idea. If they are thinking about the non violent offender, then fine, ask the people of North and South Carolina given the events of last week. Five people dead because a career criminal was released before he should have been. How's that for saving money?

Ryan from Connecticut writes:
Absolutely not, they already have it too good. Some may argue they have it better then some Americans: 3 meals prepared for them everyday, great health care, cable TV, internet, state of the art gyms, and free education. If you want to save money, take all those privileges away. I mean, it is prison.

David from San Diego, California writes:
There are low-risk, non-violent prisoners who should never have been imprisoned in the first place. If it takes a financial crisis to reduce the unfairness in drug-offense sentencing, etc. then it hasn't been all bad.

C. from Birmingham, Alabama writes:
No. Releasing convicted felons will cost the states money when they commit crimes again and they must be put through the justice system again and tried again. The rate of recidivism is far too high to even entertain this option.

Jay writes:
Is this the same Illinois state government that had dozens of innocent people on Death Row, was too incompetent to figure out they were not guilty, and looked dumb when some students did some research and exonerated these men and saved their lives? These are the same folks we are to trust to determine which prisoners are 'safe' to release to save a few bucks? I wonder how many rapists and child molesters will ‘slip through the cracks’, as the spin doctors will inevitably say when some guy they release kills someone.

Mack from Michigan writes:
No it's not a good way for the states to save money, but it's a great way for the states to justify stuffing another tax hike down our throats. What better public relations could there be for hiking taxes than turning felons loose on the streets or cutting off medical care for poor children? This is government arm twisting at its worst!

Filed under: Economy • prisons
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Paul Austin, Texas

    No Jack unless it is for something real minor. All the hardcore ones seem to get out to soon in most states unless it was a high profile case carried in the press for a longtime and even then some get such short time inside prison. Releasing prisoners early is in no way a good way to save money because it is sad to say but most would be right back in the system after a very short time costing more money to in process again. The value is just not there.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  2. Michael M Phoenix AZ

    Depends on what type of criminals we are releasing doesn't it?

    July 9, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  3. Denny from Tacoma, WA

    Not if they commit crimes again and return later via the very expensive legal process.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  4. ron in ohio

    Bad call. Keep prisoners in jail where they belong. Where possible, pass on the costs to them by seizing property or whatever is available. That might be another incentive to avoid jail.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Happy in Arizona

    Absolutely not. To save money, they need to cut salaries just like companies do with their employees. What is this country coming to, give amnesty to illegals, and free prisoners early. What they are saying is break the law and we will take care of you.

    Hire another Sheriff Arpaio who treats criminals properly with no luxuries. Afterall that is why they are there.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  6. Billy in Las Vegas

    depends on the level of prisoner, Jack.

    if it's some non-violent "criminal" that was incarcerated for a minor drug offense or other petty crime, they probably shouldn't be in prison in the first place. for people that committed violent crimes, releasing them would probably cost not only MORE money but also LIVES.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Russ in PA

    Why not? Maybe the federal government should start weeding out the over 4000 federal crimes on the books. And start weeding out unnecessary federal and state legislators and their staffs. Why aren't they being cut back?

    July 9, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  8. Chuck, NW Arkansas

    Billion will be saved if they stop incarcerating marijuana smokers and other drug users.
    Non-violent offenders should be evaluated to determine if they can be productive members of society.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  9. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    Releasing prisoners a good idea? Let see, the crime rate will go up and the legal system will become further backlogged and the criminals will end up back in jail. Let's take the short cut and leave criminals in jail.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  10. Kathy/ GA

    Yes. As a former employee in a prison the state spends tons of money feeding and keeping inmates. Unknow to the general public is the amount of money spent addressing the frivilous lawsuits and complaints that they lodge against the government. Seems that prisoners and Sarah Palin have a lot in common.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Jason, Koloa, HI

    If they are in for minor drug offenses then great. It's about time the recession finally forced some common sense into the stupidity of the "War on drugs". The expense of incarcerating minor drug offenders is not worth it.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  12. Cheryl Johns

    Depends on the crime. Non-violent victimless crime? Sure. Not otherwise.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  13. Bill Davis

    Maybe. Personally, I think de-criminalization of marijuana would save us a lot of money.

    Bill D.
    Champaign, IL

    July 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Absolutely not. The way to save money with the jail system is to cut costs by cutting down on services provided to inmates. Not having ever been to jail myself, I still understand that it is a hellish place. However, we may start to rethink whether we should be providing television, workout facilities, etc. to a population of people who have forfeited their rights by committing crimes. On an alternate note, the decriminalization of marijuana would drastically cut down on the amount of prisoners moving in and out of the system and also create a stable source of income for states if possession of marijuana was legalized (via taxation) or the possession was punishable by a large fine.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  15. Terry from North Carolina

    Before any early release, what was the crime the prisoner committed and how much of his sentence did he already serve, was he a model prisoner ? There are many more questions to be asked before there is any thought of an early release.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:51 pm |
  16. Tina Tx

    No because once they are out there are no jobs but robbing banks and so as always it is a catch 22 situation. There is no easy solution.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  17. Joe in MO

    I'd go at it another way. I'd quit putting so many more minor drug users in jail, leaving more room for the murderers, the drug sellers, and ponzi schemers like Madoff.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  18. Randy from Salt Lake City

    Yes. Most of our current inmate population is made up of druggies or people who've been convicted of crimes that are nothing compared to the crimes of our corporate-bought congresscritters.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  19. Thom Richer

    It is a "way" to save states money. But it is not a "good" way by any stretch. If we have failed so miserably in the handling of our finances, then I guess anything may help somewhat. However, no prisoner convicted of a violent crime should be among those released. Felons who have written bad checks already spend more actual time behind bars than most violent criminals. So, let the bad check writers, drug users, (not dealers) and other minor white crime prisoners out early. Not hardened, habitual or violent prisoner, however. Keeping in mind of course, it won't have one bit of a positive affect on the state's economy. Smoke and mirrors once again.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    July 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  20. John from Alabama

    Jack: Violent criminals should stay in prison, but non-violent offenders should be reviewed case by case. It cost $28.00 a day to house a prisoner in a state prison or jail. Most states used their stimulus funds to balance their budgets; therefore, in 12 months they will have to reduce their overhead. Releasing non-violent is one measure to consider.

    July 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  21. Mary

    It may save money, but don't think it's a smart idea. Maybe if the senate and the congress, would take a cut in pay, or at least have their pay froze, for a couple of years. make the illegals, pay their share of the taxes, and get rid of these dam oil wars, Bushed started. The wars have cost more than the entire, Obama budget.. Politicians should stay home,and take care of our own country. No reason to travel much any more with the internet, cell phones conference calls, fax machines, etc. So no, leave them in jail, where they choose to be, by doing the crime.


    July 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  22. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    What nitwit dreamed this one up? Send all the prisoners that he or she wants to release to that person’s home. I can live with that.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  23. Fred R Deleon

    Releasing convicted felons to save money?

    July 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  24. JD in NH

    I don't have a problem with petty, nonviolent criminals being released early. Some of them probably shouldn't have been in there in the first place. Who really cares if someone is in possession of a couple of joints?

    July 9, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  25. pat in lexington

    No, because they'll join the jobless and be receiving unemployment, food stamps, etc. No savings there!

    July 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  26. Sharon in Virginia

    Is releasing prisoners early a good way for states to save money?
    Not if they don't have a job available when they are released. Who will feed, cloth and provide housing for them when they are released? So, if a crime was committed let them do there time.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  27. Terry, Chandler AZ

    No way Jack. Most of them will be back in a few months. The cost of trials and placing these people back into the prison system will be quite expensive. Also what are newly released prisomers gonna do for work? Nothing. They will cost the sates money on welfare and other medical care.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  28. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    That is like releasing alligators in your back yard. How will that save money when more police, etc. will have to be hired to protect the citizens from these criminals? Who ever thought of this idea anyway?

    July 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  29. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Depends on which ones are released early. If you are turning people out that are "frequent offenders", then you are not saving any money because they are likely to offend again and come right back into the system. Turning out the first time offender for relatively minor or non-violent crimes would make sense and save some money.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  30. McKenna

    I have mixed feelings on this topic; if a prisoner deserves to have a long period of time in jail, on one hand, I believe we should let him/her stay there, because when you think about it, it will cost more in the long run, perhaps to let them run free (think about all the different crimes and the consequences that go with each. Ex: addict/alcholic: rehab, abuse charges perhaps, stealing liquor, underage drinking, etc. etc.) However, on the other hand, this is costing our US a bloody fortune.

    Thank you for reading my submission, Mr. Cafferty.

    McKenna Middleton, age 18

    July 9, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  31. maryann wethersfield CT

    The 2007 murders of the Petit family in Cheshire Connecticut should teach a lesson about failing to recognize serious offenders and letting dangerous criminals out into our communities....early release might save some money?? That's obscene...and people are offended by tax revenue from marijuana?? What a backwards world we live in.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  32. Jason in Magnolia, Delaware

    The better question would be, why are some people even in prison. Lets face it some prisoners are non-violent, whose punishment would be better spent in rehab or on probation. Not to mention the cost we spend on prosecution. So yeah, to release some would be a good way to save money. But a better way would to reform our legal system.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  33. Mark, Bradenton,FL

    Jack where do they go with such a lousy economy? They do what they know best, commit crimes. No keep them locked up.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  34. Judy, Exeter, Calif,

    Oh sure, this must be great news for the gang members who think nothing of killing people. Oh I have a better idea – Lets just turn all of the serial killers loose too. That way they can tear the prisons down and sell the prime real estate to big developers. They might as well, they refuse to look at how to get rid of the special interests that have cost the states so much money already. What a bunch of pin-heads!

    July 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  35. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    First, What type of sentences from these prisoners?

    July 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm |
  36. Mark

    Absolutely, let's release all of our murderers, rapists, child molesters and bank robbers at the Mexican border and tell them to start walking SOUTH!

    July 9, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  37. Melissa

    No. Its a way to make sure they're out there doing whatever they did to get behind bars in the first place all over again.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  38. m. plato

    Yes, for certain crimes. There are plenty of prisoners who probably deserve a second chance to straighten out and do good. Let them out, but keep the really, really dangerous prisoners behind bars.

    mad plato of El Paso

    July 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  39. Jenna

    Is releasing prisoners early a good way for states to save money?

    It depends on the crimes they committed.. If they are a light weight criminal than it makes no sense to keep them in jail.. There is no rehabilitation so why should we house, feed, and give them free health care? Save the space for harden criminals that need to be off our streets.

    Roseville CA

    July 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  40. william fitzwater

    Good way to cause more problems.

    July 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  41. Susan from Twin Falls Idaho

    Yes those hard-core marijuana smokers and distributors would probably be ok on the outside. I opt we let Madoff out too he's too safe in the pen. There are also some deserted islands out there where a lot of these bozos could be let loose. Let them live off lizards and coconuts.

    July 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  42. Martin in Shoreline, WA

    As long as they are releasing drug users. No one who smokes pot should be in prison. If we did not have such a judgmental, hypocritical society; we would not have more people in prison than any other nation on Earth. And my fellow Americans are stupid enough to think they are still living in a free country.

    July 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  43. Aaron from Denver

    ONLY in the case of non-violent offenders; Violent offenders too often have overly short sentences as is.

    July 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  44. mack from michigan

    No it's not a good way for the states to save money, but it's a great way for the states to justify stuffing another tax hike down our throats. What better Public Relations could there be for hiking taxes than turning felons loose on the streets or cutting off medical care for poor children. This is government arm twisting at it's worst!

    July 9, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  45. southerncousin

    Only in highly unionized states that because of the high wages and wasteful work rules can't afford stuff anymore.

    July 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  46. Martha Sample

    Sure it would, on the condition that they sign up to fight the WAR overseas.

    Richmond Va

    July 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  47. Terry in Virginia

    Do some Governors take a course in "stupid?" Time off for good behavior is one thing but time off because we can't afford to force criminals to do the time for the crime is a whole other ball game. Plus, laying off a thousand employees? When will these Governors learn that when they lay off employees, it actually costs money and reduces tax revenue. This action tends to frighten taxpayers to the point they stop buying, except for ammo and guns to protect themselves from a crime spree by the newly released, jobless criminals. Plus, more homes are lost as many hard-working state employees find themselves on the streets, thereby devaluing their neighbors' properties which also means less tax money coming into the affected municipalities. It's a domino theory politicians fail to grasp, but one thing's for certain –Governors seldom reduce their salaries and perks to help save the state money. Why don't they start there first, then get back to us with any more of their "stupid" ideas?

    July 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  48. Adam Thousand Oaks, CA

    Tough choices have to be made, but I would not advocate releasing inmates. It is just their way of changing the focus from the real problems plaguing their states. California could save money by releasing convicts, but I would prefer they address the disproportionate benefits afforded to the state workers' unions. They are the real drain on our state, and if they continue to go unchecked, we will be having this conversation again every year until they have no other options to cut.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  49. Pablo in Tejas

    It's a swell idea; providing of course that the goverrnor or legislators involved plan on retiring before the next election.

    Arlington Texas

    July 9, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  50. James in San Diego


    Public safety is the one area where the rich suffer as much as the poor due to budget cuts. If we can't raise taxes, I say let them out.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  51. Ralph Nelson

    Depends on the crime, but bad idea if we are talking really bad guys. Ralph, Yakima, Wa.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  52. NANCY M.- Colorado

    There are many states where it is a mandatory prison sentence for crimes that could be handled differently. It would be interesting to see how many of those cases are causing those states a lot of money needlessly

    July 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  53. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Jack, I worked in a county jail for 14 months. There are lots of inmates behind bars that are a waste of taxpayers money.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  54. Jack Carlson

    Oh great ! More crimes, more criminal free court representation (which will be millions upon millons of dollars)....
    Dummies all over.
    Jack C

    July 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  55. Silas Stephan, Frederick, MD

    Not by a long shot. The country is throwing BILLIONS around, and these clowns just want to save a couple million by letting criminal morons out onto the streets and have more job losses in the process! If you do the crime, you have to do the time. Those correctional officers that lose their job, equates to more unemployment...higher unemployment claims, and eventually, the state is going to end up losing more money than it tried to save. As your book title says, Now or Never....looks like its turning out to be Never Jack. Simply sad.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  56. Laura, Boston

    Yes, so long as the prisoners in question were not a threat to others. I also believe that they should be placed on house arrest and given a job to support themselves so the state wouldn't have to.

    As far as the laid off corrections officers are concerned, they should be trained for other types of prison related positions or perhaps train to work as assistants to parole officers who would be in charge of following up with those under house arrest.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  57. Andrew

    yes, only for non-viotlent offenders.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  58. ben stockton, calif

    desperate times call for desperate measures.. releasing minor drug offenses can cut costs ..instead o incarcerating them assign them with the neccessary tools to clean graffity, pick up trash etc..also,any person receiving welfare and not looking for a job can get on that detail too.here in our city we have trash strewn all over our streets ,, a lot of our building defaced with graffiti.. let there be no free rides BEN

    July 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  59. Sarah

    Hello Jack,
    You've asked a complicated question here. In reality, a large part of the budget could be spared if people were not going to jail in the first place for crimes that no longer have the impact they used to have (such as marijuana possession), millions upon millions are spent providing legal counsel to these inmates, and then millions more to support them in prison. However, lesser jail time disinhibits criminal behavior, many times the news reports criminals that are in fact sentenced too leniently and their time ordered to serve does not reflect the severity of their crimes (such as rapists and murderers, crimes that have NOT lost their impact to history). I really think if one were to consider early release for economic reasons, careful attention should be paid to the crime committed, if for nothing else than to support the victims well being, and the family of a victim's well being.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  60. Linda in Bisbee, AZ

    Absolutely, Release ALL the non-violent prisoners, especially the ones serving time for drug-related offenses. Of course, private, for-profit prisons would have a thing or two to say about that.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  61. Christi

    The connection is not clear to me, and maybe there is no connection. But there are only five states in the U.S. that don't use bail bonds – Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon, Kentucky, and Rhode Island. Three of these five states are advocating the early release of prisoners. A matter of statistics, hmmmm???

    July 9, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  62. Dan, Chantilly VA

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's time to institute a Running Man policy. It would create jobs, bring in lots of revenue through advertising and merchandising, and it would deal with the overcrowded prison population. Win-win all the way.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  63. JC in Georgia

    Sure....and while at it, Congress can just pass a law that says that doing illegal stuff is against the law. They can attach that to a pay raise for themselves, perhaps along with a spending stimulus bill which also fires police officers so that the spending bill can be spending neutral.


    July 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  64. Jerry Pirkle, Mississippi

    The non-violent offenders should never have gone to prison, they should be in restitution programs to pay back the victims of their crimes. Restitution programs for the good of society succeed whereas warehousing of prisoners fails.
    Pot should be legalized, taxed and sold by the states. That would empty 10% of the prison population by itself and it would decrease violence in society. Come on Jack, did you ever see a violent stoner?

    Jerry / Mississippi

    July 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  65. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    Sure, if they're not dangerous. However, I think alot of the prisoners have mental disorders that may not be treated if they are released and that could be trouble.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  66. Steve Canada

    No one wants anything cut except taxes, plain and simple. Surely to goodness there are some non-threatening inmates who do not require 24/7 incarceration with all the associated costs. Everyone has to get real about the state of the country right now..This kind of fearmongering is only going to get worse as the 2010 mid-terms get closer..Just wait and see.."Willie Horton" worked !!!!!

    July 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  67. Han G Thesobs in Ca

    How many people are in prison for smoking a joint? Yeah, those people in Texas, etc...let 'em out. Then let's use the prisoners to BUILD/renovate prison/schools,bridges/roads! How about teaching any skills they have? Let's show them a GOOD way to benefit themselves and stop coming BACK to prison.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  68. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    Releasing noviolent drug users that never should have been in jail in the first place will save money, and return people to productive tax paying lives. Combine that with the legalization of industrial hemp and marijuana and state coffers should balance. Close those private prisons that financially benefit from petty laws that ruin peoples lives would be a step towards justice, and yes, save money.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  69. Paulette,Dallas,PA

    Sounds like the govenors of Illinois and Arizona should be great BFF. All these released cons can move to Arizona and take their guns drinking with them in the bars. I'm concerned Jack,rather than be progressing and demonstrating civility it seems that we really are regressing to the ways of the old Wild West? Something is very wrong with this picture.

    July 9, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  70. C. Martin, Birmingham, AL

    No. Releasing convicted felons will COST the states money when they commit crimes AGAIN and they must be put through the justice system AGAIN and tried AGAIN. The rate of recidivism is far too high to even entertain this option.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  71. Ann from Charleston, S.C.

    No. Absolutely not. Never. A criminal who had recently been released from prison escalated to a serial killer and murdered five people here in South Carolina last week and had the entire community terrorized. On the front page of today’s Post and Courier is another story about two brothers who were arrested for the fatal shooting of a fifteen year old boy. One of the brothers was out on $50,000 bail after raping an eight year old boy. The other was on parole for the manufacture and distribution of cocaine. How does the governor or a state know that those released early won’t go from bad to worse as these criminals did?

    That is not to say first time offenders shouldn’t get an early release for good behavior. Everyone deserves a second chance. However, it is worth the money to keep criminals behind bars so that fifteen year old boys can live a full life.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  72. Jay

    Let me get this straight. The idea of legalizing and taxing marijuana, thereby raising money for the state and not wasting money arresting, trying, and locking up people for smoking pot is 'absurd' and 'off the table'. The idea off letting convicted felons out of jail to save money is 'an option worth debating'. America, wake up; a lot of your leaders are idiots who care about nothing more than keeping their jobs, and not protecting you.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  73. Greg, Ontario

    There are many kinds of prisoners Jack and there are many levels to public safety. Personally I think they should be put in the military and sent to Afghanistan. Some quick training and away you go. Tell them to get paid they have to catch or kill Taliban and stand back. Also you could tell them if they survive 3 tours they can go free. We in the west need to stop coddling our criminals and start using a bigger stick. Freedom just isn't a big enough motivator any more. Illegal immigrants need to be sent home hurting, not with a bottle of water or a wink and smile saying "see you next time".

    July 9, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  74. Remo....Beautiful downtown Pflugerville Texas

    Nothing more secure feeling than walking amoung convicts. Maybe the Second Amendment is a good idea.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  75. B in NC

    I've heard a lot about marijuana USERS being locked away for very long terms with hardened criminals like rapists and murderers.

    I think we need to change the laws so that only the violent people are locked up. Do agree with 3 Strikes – 3 violent or semi violent crimes, LIFE.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  76. Jim Las Vegas

    No jack lets let the counties go bankrupt to where they have to cut back police patrols and then as the criminals serve their time and get released they can join the criminals that are enjoying the under patrolled streets.

    They need to stop sending people to jail for years for crimes that they commit that harm themselves. I don't have to go any further do i jack.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  77. andyz Lynn, MA

    If you allow convicted crimminals to be released early then what is the deterence to keeping people from committing crimes? Obviously Bernie Madoff decided the American Juducial System is not harsh enough to dissuade him from bilking billions from the innocent. Why not have the death penalty enforced for all crimes except parking violations and jay-walking. Imagine the change in attitudes.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  78. Anthony....Swedesboro, NJ

    Let all the harmless potheads out and go back to their peaceful slackers lives and we could close scores of prisons. We may even have enough room to keep violent offenders incarcerated.
    Let's get marijuana out of the equation and we can save millions on enforcement and prisons. Duh, this is not rocket science!

    July 9, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  79. Dennis

    send them to Kansas, let the Navy watch them

    July 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  80. Annie, Atlanta

    Sure. I can be open minded enough to let them free, as long as they don't move in next door, or even the next town over.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  81. Jon - NY

    No it would not be a good idea. How do you define something so vague as "non-threatening?" It is completely arbitrary and therefore will not work with the American people.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  82. Jan - Lancaster, PA

    Guess it depends on the criminal & if you were a victim of the crime. Think if there is a get out of jail early option, then the criminal should have to pay a fee for the privilege & the funds go back to supporting the county / state.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  83. Jay

    Is this the same Illinois state government that had dozens of innocent people on Death Row, was too incompetent to figure out they were not guilty, and looked dumb when some students did some research and exonerated these men and saved their lives? These are the same folks we are to trust to determine which prisoners are 'safe' to release to save a few bucks? I wonder how many rapists and child molesters will 'slip through the cracks', as the spin doctors will enevitably say when some guy the release kills someone.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  84. pat stewart

    I'm from Pennsylvania where the prisons are overloaded with all kinds of convicts. There are too many low-income people who were railroaded by our legal system, who have families out here that need them. Yes, I believe that all cases be weighed and those who are accepted have to wear a bracelet and meet their parole officer weekly. Something has to be done to help our economy.


    Pat Stewart

    July 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  85. Agnes from Scottsdale, AZ

    Jack, it's entirely likely that there are 10,000 inmates who don't belong there in the first place. There are a number of frivilous sentences which are charged each year. There needs to be solutions to crime other than throwing people in jail. What do we all say if there is no spike in crime after this happens?

    July 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  86. j/NJ

    Is releasing prisoners early a good way for states to save money?

    Absolutely, non violent offenders should be released forthwith; in addition contrary to what law enforcement personnel contend, there is much needless spending in virtually all state criminal justice systems including parole bureaus and affiliate programs. all of which represent an egregious waste of tax payers money and should be abolished nationwide...

    July 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  87. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    Yes, and I'll tell you why. 85% of all prisoners currently incarcerated will be released,sooner or later, and if states can save money by freeing up the prisons for the truly dangerous inmates, then why not?
    Any release program should be structured for inmates incarcerated for non violent crimes. Also programs should be in place to assist inmates to move back into the main stream of society. Releasing them with token monies and no support will only lead to their returning to the prison environment.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  88. Michael Houston Texas

    Only nonviolent criminals. Though lets have some kind of work program. Maybe work in the hospital industry, free government clinics for all citizens, stress citizens.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  89. Brian Smith PhD

    I have an idea. Let's let the prisoners out of jail and put Congress in jail

    July 9, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  90. GREGORY Miami Beach, Fl.

    It's about time the authorities came to their senses. We imprison the most people per capita in the world. Non- violent petty drug offenders would be a good start and it would be alot cheaper to counel them instead.

    July 9, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  91. southerncousin

    If your state is heavily unionized and you have inefficient work rules and exorbitant labor contracts given to those unions by the democratic leaders of the state to get votes then yes. You have to do something stupid to keep paying off those unions so you can keep getting elected. It is a principle of the democrats, screw the taxpayers, protect the unions and the the people that don't work and pay taxes.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  92. Dee

    Its a great way to save money. Then, we can stop feeding the hungry, that would save money, then we could stop educating our children, that would save money, then we could cut our welfare roles, that would save money..........................no wait, we do all that, dont we, and that really seems to have worked. I thought Blagoivich was no longer the Governor of Illinois!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  93. Sandra in Temecula, CA

    If their crimes are non violent a restitution program would be better than jail time. Literally pay for their crimes, even if it is community service picking up trash. Have them do something productive instead of housing, feeding and supporting these losers. The illegals that are criminals need to be deported and denied ever obtaining citizenship or any welfare or other benefits they are sucking from the taxpayers.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  94. Dennis, Columbus, Ohio

    Since the prisoners we are talking about are non-violent, short timers this would be no different than early or shock probation. Also they can be placed on “home arrest” with ankle monitors.
    As far as the Governor’s authority to release thousands of inmates consider this: If you don’t allow this then he could just pardon them which would mean no probation monitoring. They would be as free as you and me.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  95. Lil'Joe in Texas

    No, it will not solve anything, just create problems!

    I think Nancy Pelosi may have come up with a start though...she"s canned the Resolution 600 proposed by Sheila Jackson Lee to honor Michael Jackson. Maybe they'll start looking more seriously at other needless resolutions in the House!

    One can hope anyway!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  96. Joe L.

    Either release convicts or raise taxes? Why is cutting spending never an option?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  97. Ken in NC

    There are no savings generated by releasing them early. You are simply moving the money saved from the Dept. of Corrections budget to the budget of the offices of the District Attorney for expenditure on the prosecution of the early released prisoners when they violate the law and return to the system again.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  98. Charlie in Bremerton Wa

    That depends Jack; are the released prisoners genuinely remorseful for what they've done or is this merely a way to save a few million?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  99. Jamie

    Release the pot smokers and non violent thieves who got a $100 or so and replace them with the Wall Street types for the next 25 years. We will all be better off.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  100. ellie NJ

    It would be a good idea if they released the folks that are there due to marijuana charges. Do that in conjunction with legalizing pot and you'd have the double benefit of less expenses for prisoners and tax collection

    July 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  101. Matt

    Yes, yes it is. We should release the victims of our misguided drug laws. Millions of dollars are spent on keeping nonviolent, victimless criminals in jails because we have a puritanical belief that the state can tell the individual what we can or can not put in our own bodies. Just decriminalize Marijuana... it's the best way to reduce state costs.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  102. Laura

    There is plenty of evidence that shows that many individuals become better criminals the longer they are in prison. For offenders who commit certain crimes, such as non-violent drug offenders, releasing them early is a very cost-effective measure. Additionally there is evidence that individuals past a certain age are at a low risk for re-offending. Releasing the older prisoners could also be benefit Corrections budgets without posing a risk to public safety.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  103. Susan

    Jack, I was a Detention Officer for a while, all I can say is Jacky get
    your gun!
    Susan CLT, NC

    July 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  104. Debra in Arizona

    If Arnold releases all the undocumented criminals. I hope he at least drives them to the boarder!!! What else can he do to screw up California??

    July 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  105. gary

    Yes, make room for all the crooks in politics.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  106. Laura

    There is plenty of evidence that shows that many individuals become better criminals the longer they are in prison. For offenders who commit certain crimes, such as non-violent drug offenders, releasing them early is a very cost-effective measure. Additionally there is evidence that individuals past a certain age are at a low risk for re-offending. Releasing the older prisoners could also be benefit Corrections budgets without posing a risk to public safety.
    -Laura Chicago, IL

    July 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  107. Rodney Wyatt

    With the state of the economy, anything helps. As long as this plan excluded the release of individuals convicted of violent crimes.. I'm sure there are plenty of individuals wrongfully imprisoned anyway.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  108. pat

    According to today's Sun-Sentinel here in Broward County Florida they're getting ready to release a death row inmate ..

    July 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  109. Jimmy in LA

    Prisoners have it way to easy with their tvs and computers. They should be released to a work furlough program. If they had to work all day instead of sit around that would be more incentive NOT to commit crimes. Put them to good use instead of tax payers paying to house them. And yes, Governor Arnold was threatening the same thing. It's their way of trying to get the tax payers to agree to fork over their last dime so they can spend that too!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  110. David Porter

    Until people get it that we need to pay taxes for public services, I don't see any problem with showing them what happens when we don't have tax money to pay for public services-let the prisoners go, or better yet, put them up in peoples' homes in exchange for tax deductions.

    david porter
    austin, TX

    July 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  111. Larry L, Torrance, CA

    You betcha. It's imperative to get our prison population down substantially.

    Our country now has one in one hundred of us locked up. We have 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's imprisoned population.

    We imprison at the drop of a hat.

    Non-violent minor offenders should be released immediately. The cost to society of this prison industrial complex is bankrupting us.

    Wealthy people leave California – and California taxes – so as not to continue contributing to our brutal prison system here.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  112. Natalie Ohio

    Given that African Americans make up only 13.5 percent of the US population but account for 70 plus percent of the inmate population its apparent that there is something rotten enough in "Denmark" to release prisoners OF COLOR whether it saves money or not. Many have doubts that the same racial disparity that lead to this imbalance of incarceration would not also ensure Whites are not released to
    "save the states money" more readily than non-caucasian counterparts.

    Once released they will need job training, and education assistance but anything would be worth paying for rather than the "ware housing" of men who could contribute to the economy and society rather sitting in prisons with three hots and a cot and lots of modern day task masters rearing back on their thumbs sanctimoniously.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  113. Bryan Miller

    Criminals need to serve the time they were sentenced. If we want to save money on prisons, put more murderers on death row. As seen in SC last week, we have enough former criminals on the street
    Bryan Miller, Greenville, SC.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  114. Danny

    Releasing convicts is not the same thing as releasing dangerous convicts. A large portion of the men and women with the potential to be released would likely be those that have been arrested relatively minor charges such as drug possession or theft. I think releasing these prisoners would be beneficial in more ways than one, however I have little faith that the right people would be selected to be released.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  115. John R. Higgins, Jr.

    If someone would release Jim Traficant early he might be able to get re-elected to Congress. John, East Liverpool, Ohio

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  116. Bruce

    One preventable death or rape will nulify any dollars saved. Of much less importance, it makes me wonder about the Governer's judgment because it is clearly political suicide, deferred.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  117. ivan (virgin islands)

    Come on Jack if we release them early most of them will just end up right back in prison. Let them serve the time they were given for the crime they did. If the United States really wanted to save money we would pull all of our troops out of Iraq and Afganistan. Cha Ching millions saved there.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  118. Gwen Caranchini

    Why not? We can kill two birds with one stone– We can take the corrections officers who want to go and send them to the borders to stop illegal aliens from coming into the country and stop more crime and save the money from nonviolent criminals who are short. If every state did that, I bet we would have fewer illegal aliens, less crime, and have to build fewer jails.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  119. Sylvia Ash

    Yes releasing prisoners that have commited non violet crimes is a good idea.
    Example I know one in Georgia that was given 6 years to do just because he failed to report on time. And he has never committed a violent crime in his life.
    Walton Co is really good at over loading the state's.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  120. Bob Licause

    Sure, we may save 125 million, but more likely we'll spend twice that trying to get these offenders back to jail. In addition you want to take away jobs from hard working people at a time when we need to generate jobs. I think the inmates are running the asylum.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  121. Alison Okerblom

    ARE THEY CRAZY! Absolutely NOT a good idea to save a state money! Many of those criminals are going to go right out and commit ANOTHER crime (maybe even worse considering the hard times) and then they will wind up back in the judicial system which will just cost the state MORE money AGAIN. SERIOUSLY!!!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  122. sabrina royal oak MI

    Yes, just not child molestors or killers, or rapists. The above three can just be given the death sentence.
    We can save billions by not holding prisoners on crimes like no car insurance or pot smokers or driving on an expired licence or what ever all the cells are being held with crimes that are not against society.
    We have far too many being held on crimes like drunk driving when they can hold those people under tethers and the like and lock those people up if they violate where and when they should be. They can feed and clothe themselves and go to work instead of being locked up doing nothing more then wasting tax dollars.
    My aunts neighbor went to prison for less time on a murder charge then he would have if he had not killed the person to testify against him on pot charges. There is something worse then wrong with priority laws that are enforced because of loss of income for commiting them.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  123. Bill from Kansas City Missouri

    Absolutely Not. Releasing prisoners early is one of the stupidest things we could do to save money. Our elected officials are suppose to protect their citizens not put them in harms way. I have a bad feeling that most of these released prisoners will be up to no good if let out.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  124. Bardeep Sohi

    I don't think that the states should be releasing prisoners who have less than 1 year left on their terms. It probably also includes all those who were sentanced for less than 1 year. If you think about it, those who commit petty crimes really get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  125. D. Paul Cline

    ABSOLUTELY a good idea! However, it should be a NATIONWIDE effort to release the thousands of (presently) non-productive victims of the so-called "War on Drugs." Any reasonable person looking at our country's insane incarceration rates has no choice but to conclude "Something is wrong here." Jack, always enjoy your segments –

    July 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  126. Laura

    These people were not put in prison for cheating on their ACT tests. Maybe if a condition of their release was that they have employment waiting for them on the outside, it may be a consideration. If they are only going to become a drain on sociatey outside of prison, then monies are just being transferred from keeping them in prision to keeping them on food stamps and unemployment. The only people being hurt in this would be the hard-working prison guards who would lose their jobs. Not to mention the safey factor of releasing prisons back onto the streets without a means to support themselves. Bad idea.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  127. Lesley Frost

    ....and who will take care of these prisoners post release? Unemployment is at a staggering rate; is the state expecting them to find work and be self sufficient?? If not, then what....welfare? government programs? If we aren't paying for prisoners to stay 'inside', then we have to pay for them on the outside...either way, we have to pay.
    Gilbert, Arizona

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  128. Donald Schulze

    Of course it's a good way to save money. Does anyone really think that someone doing a few extra months in jail keeps them from re-offending if they have a mind to? Get real. Tjhat would have to be the stupidest reason for holding people "for the maximum sentence".

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  129. Andrea Woodstock GA

    Yes, I think this should at least be considered. Especially in a state like IL, who I believe RELEASED 13 death row inmates (in one year) several years ago due to wrongful incarceration, AND whose former governor (Ryan) commuted ALL pending death sentences to Life as his last act. There's obviously a problem in IL! So, if there are inmates who are due to be released in a year or two, why not release them early and relieve a little tax obligation?


    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  130. Rick, Indian Wells, Ca.

    Yes Jack! We should focus on releasing all those incarcerated for marijuana and minor drug charges. We waste hundreds of millions of dollars fighting the "war on drugs" and locking up thousands of people that may need rehab, not jail. We should keep the prisons free for the true criminals: Wall Street , bankers and politicians!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  131. ETN OObanga

    Yes, this is a good Idea, especially since most so called criminals are victims of a mechanism of social control, by use of fear, white people see people of color being marched off to jail, and people think so what, because maybe that if you ended up in prison, they believe that those people locked up must be the people to feared, this is a mechanism of control, by the dominant group to project the image that these are dangerous people, some people having been brain washed into being Institutionally Racist.

    Crimes committed against Children such as Sexual or Physical Abuse or Murder of Children, Crimes involving Murder of an Adult should be EXCLUDED. All others should be given a chance of Real Rehabilitation back into society.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  132. Stephen

    What a brilliant idea that is! Let's sacrifice the safety of our people just to save the State money. Of course I'm being sarcastic because that is a horrible idea. For no reason should we allow potentially dangerous people back on the streets because they have been deemed safe. That is just idiotic and the States must be really desperate if they are considering that course of action.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  133. Sean Poughquag,NY

    Hey Jack, are you serious! We release prisoners to save state money and next week they raise sales taxes. What is the United States coming to. Maybe if we only spent money on what we needed rather then spending it on everything we wouldn't be in a situation like this. What ever happened to budgets, do they exist anymore?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  134. Ronnie Evans

    I don't see a problem with releasing prisoners early on the basis that it actually saves my state money, and that prisoners released were not placed in jail for being involved in any violent activity.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  135. Jorge

    The Problem with the States is the same as the Fedreal government. It is to big and getting bigger. What they need to do is cut on their salaries or do more work for what they earn or simpler cut some of the jobs positions they do not need. Stop choking and squeezing the American peolple.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  136. John - Houston, TX

    Only if you exchange them for our politicians.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  137. shonda

    Can someone please put me in office? I have stated all along, release the inmates with the lesser crimes, send them to iran to eight in order to pay their debt to society. Of course, the government needs to coincide with the judge that sentenced the prisoner to see if that individual would be a adequate candidate for release.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  138. Jordan

    Jack, I think that Schwarzenegger should stick to his original idea and the Governor of Illinois should follow. It's pretty simple, release all the criminals held in prisons for marijuanna posession who have not harmed anyone at all. We could implement Schwarzenegger's idea to legalize the plant as well. We all know this legalization should and needs to happen and our struggling states can raise some greenbacks by selling some green.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  139. jon Kerr

    In 1966 when Ronald Ray-gun defeated Pat Brown (Jerry Brown's dad) for governor of California, he did the same trick of releasing prisoners and state mental hospital patients to save money. The crime rate increased substantially, as did the cost of crime fighting and it was shown to be a BIG mistake!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  140. A.Brown

    Yes I do because this justice system is broken and there are millions of young males mostly African-American serving 20 to life for first time drug charges or 1st time offenders who should been put in a bootcamp for juveniles or youth offenders instead of doing hard time with hard criminals. The prison system has become a racketeering system for states to collect money for every person in jail. South Carolina is one the main ones who have that very problem. Every one in jail is not dangerous, back owed child support, bad checks and drug convictions doesnt make u a killer. White Collar crimes always get a slap on a wrist compared to crimes of poverty, which is insane! Probation is probably where most of these people belonged anyway!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  141. thomas minervino

    I always thought that when a person wnt to prison it was to pay for a crime (THAT THEY COMMITED) OUR PRISON SYSTEM tries to pay them. Should we release them , why not make them pay, you know pay for thier crime.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  142. ETN OObanga

    I totally agree, let them be put up in homes, as long as the following has not occurred.

    Crimes committed against Children such as Sexual or Physical Abuse or Murder of Children, Crimes involving Murder of an Adult should be EXCLUDED. All others should be given a chance of Real Rehabilitation back into society.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  143. Timothy

    Well Jack it scares the heck out of me. Im a 13 year old boy in California and there has been alot of talk about it. My dad works at San Quentin a major prison in California and he tells me it wouldnt be good. I agree. This would not be good for anyone. I hope Govonor Terminator will come to his senses. (Like that will ever happen)


    July 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  144. Mike -Ohio

    No, releasing prisoners only puts public safety at risk and , heaven forbid, adds to the unemployment ranks. What ever happened to prisoners performing public works? Maybe they should consider returning to chain gangs...it would certainly save money for the state government and perform some level of public service.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  145. evelyn dunlap

    everyone in prison isnt a convict . i dont have a problem with it unless there letting out serial killers, proven murderers and rapers of women and children, some people need a second chance.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  146. Peggy

    as an Illinoisan, I support Gov. Quinn's proposal to release prisoners as long as they've been convicted by the Draconian marijuana laws that should've been overhauled decades ago. Then I hope the legislature immediately reforms the marijuana laws and passes a resolution calling for commutation of marijuana convictions. Let's use the budget problems to finally develop common sense attitudes towards marijuana "crimes".

    Mahomet, Il.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  147. Yasir

    If I was a prisoner and given a chance to get out early – in the current economy – I would think twice...Inside the prison at least I wouldn't have to worry about food/shelter/helthcare like millions of Americans on the outside have to worry about!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  148. DS

    I've heard much worse. Non violent offenders don't belong in prison anyway.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  149. dre

    Jack obviously you didn't hear about New Jersey shutting down its second youngest prison to fetch 41 million dollars to balance its budget lying to the public saying that crime had fallen. Yet secretly early releasing inmate in halfway houses and full min units. Safety for the public is always second when money is involved.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  150. Steve

    Jack, I don't belive in tax payers having to pay prisoners way. they should have to earn their keep, like picking up litter or doing jobs that no-one else will do like the jobs illegal immigrants do. I hate the system that allows criminals to sit around and do nothing but play video games and commit crime from thier cells. The system is broken and no con should be allowed out early for any reason.

    Steve in Kansas City

    July 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  151. Chris K. Lafayette IN

    Absolutely. Non-violent criminals are not only a huge drain on taxpayer money there are a number of studies that show that incarceration of a non-violent criminal can in time produce a violent one. I think its fairly obvious that the governor does not want to release potentially dangerous individuals out into the general population. The United States of America has the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens of any nation in the world, 1 in 100, and the other 99 of us are paying for it! Non-violent offenders do not need to spend large parts of their life in jail becoming more and more accustomed to being treated like and learning to think like a life time criminal.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  152. Mike

    I think you are on to something. How much money do you suppose we'd save if we didn't arrest these convicts in the first place?
    Do you suppose that the ones getting released are of the "white collar" variety?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  153. JaN Van Quakebeke

    NO!! In the long run it will probably cost the state a ton more money. My husbands uncle had committed three felonies in Texas and was supposed to spend the rest of his life in prison. They let him out in 2003. He killed my mother-in-law (Maria Thoma) but the police did not have enough proof to arrest him but they withdrew his parole because he tried to buy a weapon. He was paroled a little while later and took off for Tuscon AZ where he was eventually captured him. He came up for parole again took off to AZ and killed two other people He was captured on June 24th and now will cost AZ tons of money. He knows the system so whether factual or not he has claimed to have murder 10-12 people! This will end up costing the gov a ton of money investigating each one etc. (Michael Jonathan Carlson) . You hear of these things over and over again.. Don't let them out! When they are in prison they have already been given chance after chance! Signed Safe in Clinton Utah!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  154. Miguel

    I think that's a grand, so long as they're required to pay rest of their debt to society by joining a branch of armed forces and lending a hand to our troops overseas. Go figure, Freedom and a Job what a novel idea!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  155. Kellie, Philadelphia

    Yes, prisoners should be released early in the event that extensive rehabilitation has been imployed. However, the system has not provided the means to protect society from potential violent felons since prisons are a breeding ground for more aggressive behavior. What states should weigh is the price it costs to incarcerate a citizen for a 10 year period compared to what is required to rehabilitate him and have him add to society upon release. I believe the later is more beneficial for all. The first is more advantageous for industries that exploit cheap prison labor.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  156. Jean

    Keep in mind who really runs California – it has been the Democrat Controlled Lesiglation....and indeed that shows.....spend, borrow, spend, borrow, spend, borrow and now big trouble !
    San Diego

    July 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  157. TiM Yale New Haven, CT

    I am a retired correction employee in CT...we used to released prisoner early until a cheshire, CT family paid the ultimate sacrafice...can you repeat the question?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  158. donna sherman

    The prison business has been exploited for several years. Getting a prison in our area is not only sought, it is politically savvy. In that arena, the prisoners have become commodities for communities, and their living facilities have become protected. Just a few years ago, the prisons were self contained and the prisoners worked for their own welfare. Now, they have exercise routines because they do no work, and the expense of their incarceration has exploded. Should we just kick them out because of that expense? I vote to do just that.
    If they cause harm to the outside of prison population, then we know they consider themselves better-off inside than out. What does that say about our system?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  159. Ivan

    Release prisoner early into a society that is suffering from job loses and huge unemployment numbers. This will impact unemployment greatly by laying 1000 correction officers off. Won't have an impact,ha. The crime rate may be a focus for this Governer to look at, after release of these good citizens back into our society.

    Kanopolis, Ks

    July 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  160. Charles Eddington

    Releasing prisoners early to balance the state budget is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. If there are no consequences for crimes committed and the criminal realizes it when sentences are commuted then the criminal will be right back in business only sooner and the only sect of our society that will benefit is the lawyers hired to defend the habitual criminal and they (the lawyers) are all a bunch of crooks as well. Who ultimately pays for the criminals activities and the cost to try and convict them? Of course, it's the tax payer. Instead of punishing the tax payer for the mismanagement of public funds, try cutting the peoples salaries who are responsible for mismanagement of tax payer monies and if you say this happens rarely you're either a fool or need a good shot of reality. Bottom line here is setting up a revolving door for criminal activity is not going to save any money and in the long run and will only add cost to state budgets that are already overly bloated, overly burdened under managed and not utilized efficiently or effectively by our elected officials. Salary based on performance is what I advocate for over paid executives in our local, state and federal governments.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  161. Dana

    There's an argument to be made for releasing non-violent offenders early, especially those that are serving time for possession of small amounts of drugs. But to release prisoners during a recession and not have jobs for them will be a problem. The federal stimulus program, which could be a source of jobs, is barring people with a prison record. That's not going to work.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  162. Jorge

    Another way to tackle this problem is like most of us do when there is no money. We stop eating 2 times a day, cut off the TV cable bill, cancel the phone service, turn off the lights 20 hours per day and take cold showers. Why can the inmates do the same?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  163. California Climber

    Of Course it is a good idea, Especially when the anti-ammunitioners, (the new way the Brady Campaign wishes it be cloaked) [TAKE A LOOK AT THE CALIFORNIA AND FEDERAL PROPOSALS], are finished. Obama and his AG have figured out how to get around the 2nd Amendment, attack the ammo.

    Now that I have vented my spleen, most of the sheep that live in the US will not give a da$n whether we release prisoners until they suffer the problems that Gaffney, NC just had.

    (For those of you that do not read/listen to the news, I am referenceing the serial killer with 25 pages in his rap sheet.) Oh I am sure that the government NEVER makes mistakes.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  164. DawnL,CA

    Gov. Schwazeneeger (sp?) of California is talking about releasing prisoners also. I view it as a scare tactic for the legislators to finally come up with a budget. We are issuing IOU's now. If all the states could send back the illegal immigrants who are in prison-they probably would not have a short-fall. NEVER will this happen. They will just release them on the community.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  165. Bruce, Charlotte, NC

    One preventable death or rape will nulify any dollars saved. Of much less importance, it makes me wonder about the Governer’s judgment because it is clearly political suicide, deferred.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  166. bill

    Hi Jack
    The governor of Michigan has released untold #'s of prisoners in the effort to reduce government spending. It is down right frightening. Five additional Michigan prisons are set to close by October with the layoff of more than 1000 correctional officers. Thousands of inmates are being let out looking for work in a state with a 15% unemployment rate.Keep the door locks and watch your back. Level 4 and 5 prisoners being double bunked and put in level 2 and 3 facilities. I think we all are going feel the fear of there action. Thanks

    July 9, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  167. Kandi Perino

    Dear Jack,

    It is a scare tactic!

    Besides, I'm sure those 10,000 inmate beds would fill up quickly. And then the state would need to hire back the layed-off CO's.

    Kandi Perino
    Buffalo Grove, IL

    July 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  168. wayne

    Sure let them all out! But don't complain l8tr, because you will always get what you pay for!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  169. Ted Gibbs

    I live in Illinois and I have suggested that I should not have to be punished for the 2009 budget faults. One way to save money without punishing teachers, government workers, seniors, mentally ill and public safety is to have to government cut from the top. The Illinois government was the first to get pay raises when the citizens were asking for a minimum wage hike. Why the State of Illinois they begin by giving themselves a pay cut, less benefits and a less adequate pension?

    July 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm |

    Good idea for some prisoners. If they are in there for stealing grocery's when hungry, or buying drugs etc., release them.
    If they are in there for Bernie Madoff or Charles Mansion crimes, keep them in prison. No luxury prisons for anyone though.
    As for the Judges, a lot of them overturn the decisions that the Jury has made. Judges are not God.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  171. Cynthia

    With the economy in its current shape a number of them will be returned back to prison for robbing people or worse and what about all of those who will loose their jobs – what will they do.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  172. Virginia Kinnas

    Yes, yes, yes. For non-violent crimes, yes, yes, yes.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  173. Michael Roepke - Dallas, TX

    There are, of course, some people who should never be released but given that we have 2.3 million people presently incarcerated, I would think that it would be easy to find a large number of them that would benefit from an early release. Where we are confident that an early release will not result in any danger to society, maybe we should take our lead from our conservative values friends and ponder Matthew:
    "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy."

    July 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  174. SHARON: Anchorage, Alaska

    NO, using Illinois as an example w/ overall unemployment at 10.1%: 1) The Governor should not be permitted by law to supersede the Judicial System; 2) What will the state do with 10,000 more unemployed people considering Boone County May 09 UE rate is 13.7 & Winnebago County UE rate is 13.3; plus 3) Imagine the burden on Food Banks, Homeless Shelters, Community Services, Medical Clinics & more; 4) Do parents / voters want 10,000 more criminals on the streets where the highest # of children have been murdered this year; 5) States need to consider cost cutting measures from programs offered to people in jail and all other government wasteful projects FIRST; 6) Any Governor deciding to take such action, impeach them for not taking their duties to the state seriously!

    July 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  175. John, Fort Collins,CO

    This would be a perfect way to save money as long as the governors of each state would be willing to sign a personal financial guarantee for the actions of the inmates they release. My humble guess is, no one would ever be released with those conditions.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  176. Chip Hairston

    What do you expect a corrupt state to do? Hopefully, for the state of Illinois these criminals could get elected to state offices to “keep the carnage alive” for the state. As for saving money, well course it is a good idea to save now and spend later.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  177. MK

    The number of prisoners in USA is so ridiculously high, that of course it is. If over one percent of the adult population is behind bars, it is very likely, that huge portion of them really shouldn't be there in the first place. System is broken, but irrational fears in the population makes sure, that no one has guts to fix it. It is too unpopular. Apparently Americans like tough love, and also require it from their leaders.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  178. Joe, Alberta, Canada

    Well Mr. Cafferty, Sure, it sounds great, money wise, but if one of those prisoners is released a year early, then what the hell was the judge and jury there for? There sentence was given and they sure as hell should have to serve it. Otherwise, get rid of the judges and juries and let the Gov. sentence them, cut the court costs, wouldn't that save alot more money???

    July 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  179. Joel A. Russ

    I think a prisioner release would be great. That would give me an excuse to purchase another pistol maybe another shotgun. The catch would be- I know of one exgovener and one west coast govener that could serve collectively all the released prisioners remaining terms. Of course in the same cell so they could debate how they got there and of course to save money. .

    July 9, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  180. Ken

    Time to execute some of the murderers, rapists, and drug lords.
    At least we could start with the self confessed guilty ones.

    Why should we be spending over $100, 000 per year to keep these social outcasts alive.

    They are creating carbon dioxide and using oxygen.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  181. charley iowa

    Jack, They won't save money .They will just export them to someplace else and give that community a bigger headache.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  182. Howard Mason

    Go ahead Govenor and raise taxes in Illinois. Then build more prisons to accomodate all of the crooked politicians in this state.

    July 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  183. peggy sue

    I think its a very good idea. All prisoners who were convicted of victimless crimes would be a good place to start. There are many incarcerated for growing, or possessing marijuana- a peaceful, relatively benign plant which has many benefits to the ill or just stressed out- not nearly as dangerous as alcohol, tobacco or many prescription medications as we have so vividly been made aware of in the last few days. The US has more imprisoned than any other country on the planet.
    And then there's privatization of prisons for profit- if anyone digs deep enough into that I'm sure there's a whole can of worms eating away at the decayed scraps of a country that's lost its way in so many ways.
    -peggy from Maui, Hawaii

    July 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm |