Missouri Tells Judges Cost of Sentences; California Searches

Inquiring minds are watching how states are finding surprising ways to cut expenses. Some seem to not be well thought out. Consider this article on Missouri letting judges know the cost of their imposed penalties:

When judges in Missouri sentence convicted criminals, a new and unusual variable is available for them to consider: what a given punishment will cost the state, says the New York Times.

For someone convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, for instance, a judge might now learn that a three-year prison sentence would run more than $37,000 while probation would cost $6,770.

Is this what the citizens of this country want? What is going to happen when one of the offenders ‘repeats’? Or worse, decides to graduate to worse crimes?

…The practice has touched off a sharp debate, says the Times. Proponents consider it an overdue tool that will force judges to ponder alternatives to prison more seriously. But critics dismiss the idea as unseemly…

The shift here comes at a dire time for criminal justice budgets around the country:…

It is amazing what states have already done due to revenue shortfalls: Michigan has closed prisons; Arizona considered putting its prison system under private control; California has searched for ways to shrink its incarcerated population.

The question sitting there waiting, like an 800 lb. Gorilla in the room, is “When will the electorate see these actions for what they are…payback for complete fiscal mismanagement by Democrats and liberal Republicans?”

November’s elections should be ugly…very ugly.

Numerous legal experts on sentencing issues say Missouri’s new policy makes sense. Economic considerations play roles in all sorts of legal decisions, says Rachel E. Barkow, a law professor at New York University, so why not let judges understand the cost of their choices?

Others, like Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, argue that Missouri’s plan counts certain costs but fails to measure others — the societal price, for instance, if someone not incarcerated commits another crime…

Anyone want to make a bet that the so-called experts quoted above are left-of-center? These are the same people who got the country into this predicament, in the first place. Why should anyone listen to them now?

Vote the bastards out in November.


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