ROC signatory and President of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy Mike Thompson authored the following letter to the editor of the Virginian Pilot:
Prison is unquestionably the proper place for violent and repeat offenders, and long sentences for such dangerous felons will always be worth their hefty cost.But as Ken Cuccinelli and Deborah Daniels correctly argued in ‘Use prison time more effectively, humanely’ (column, June 24), many lower-level offenders can be effectively sanctioned in other ways without compromising public safety.
Using research to guide their efforts, a growing list of states Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota among them have reformed their correctional and sentencing systems to expand the use of prison alternatives. Such reforms adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support are not only saving states money but also reducing recidivism. These states hold nonviolent criminals accountable and keep communities safe.
Those who question such a strategy should take note of this compelling fact, reported recently by the Pew Charitable Trusts: States that have cut their imprisonment rates have experienced greater crime decreases than those that increased incarceration.
It’s hard to quarrel with evidence like that. Virginia’s legislators should take note.