Printed on: December 27, 2012

Prison reform needed

Received Dec. 19

It is time to revisit our parole laws and revise them so we rehabilitate our ex-prisoners and return many of them to society as good citizens. We need legislation that helps them be employable, be able to vote and become taxpayers, not tax liabilities. We need to be smart rather than tough on crime. This is doable as proven by the Ohio State Legislature. They passed two laws to reduce the prison population and return offenders to active life as good citizens. They did this after years of increasing correctional facility costs that took funding away from education, health and welfare and other critically needed programs.

Ohio has successfully reduced its prison population and turned many nonviolent offenders into good, working and taxpaying members of society.

Money saved, after rehabilitation costs, is available for education, health and welfare and other critically needed programs.

It is also time to close the private prisons in Idaho. These prisons are not only an eyesore to Idaho but also a money sink. After all, private prisons are in business to make money not rehabilitate offenders. Prison gangs are running the private Idaho prison with the guards afraid of interfering. Abuse is rampant and the prisoners out of control. This must stop.

Finally, prisons are not the place to serve the mentally ill. We need to develop quality, adequately funded, community mental health programs that treat the mentally ill. This need cannot continue to be swept aside as if mental illness does not exist. (Word count: 250)

Robert Gehrke