Better supervision of violent offenders leaving prison is among new recommendations by the Special Council On Criminal Justice Reform.
80 to 100 of the state’s most dangerous prisoners are released into the community each week without any supervision.
The Council recommends inmates who serve the maximum sentence and don’t face probation spend the last three to six months of their term in a halfway house.They would also get mental health services and job placement counseling.
Judge Michael Boggs, co-chair of the Council, says some prisoners are under armed guard for years, then one day they’re set free with 25 dollars and a bus ticket:
He says “You might have an offender that literally has to be escorted everywhere they go in prison. And when they’re released, they’re escorted by armed guards to the front door of the prison and they are released into your community with absolutely nobody keeping an eye on them.”
He says that needs to change. “Because we do have data that suggests the first 90 days out are a very, very dangerous time for recidivism.” says Boggs.
The state has 13 Transitional Centers. Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens says many centers serve non-violent offenders who don’t need as much supervision.
“This recommendation would allow us to put them on administrative or unsupervised status. And then we could refocus those probation officers to these higher risk individuals. So the fiscal impact would be a net zero. But the operational impact would be enhanced public safety.” he says.
Boggs is optimistic the General Assembly will pass legislation in 2013 based on the recommendation. The legislature begins its session in January.