Groups back alternatives to incarceration

03/04/08 Robert Lorei
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Finn Kavanagh, vice president and regional director of Phoenix House, and Sara Romeo, executive director and CEO of Tampa Crossroads Inc. joined us to discuss an alternative to building more state prisons. It's being backed by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Here's how The Florida Alchohol And Drug Abuse Association described it: "Florida finds itself in an untenable situation; there are not enough state resources to support the prison construction needed over the next five years. Today there are 100,000 inmates in Florida’s prisons. The Criminal Justice Estimating Conference predicts the prison population will grow 25 percent in the next five years to 125,000 inmates. Florida will need to build 17 new prisons in the next five years, at $110-million per prison, to accommodate this growth. Obviously once the prisons are built then recurring general revenue will need to be committed to operate them. All of this has to happen at a time when there are no new state revenues and depressed revenue projections for the next two years. In FY 08-09 alone, $739-million must be spent on new prison construction. Gov. Crist took a bold and innovative approach to address this problem when he released his budget on Jan. 31. The governor is suggesting that the Legislature fund $28.8-million in FY 08-09 and $281-million over the next five years to fully fund drug treatment for all probationers and inmates that have a substance abuse problem. Statistics collected by the Department of Corrections over the 14 years that drug treatment programs have been funded indicate that there is 29 percent less recidivism with probationers who participated in community drug treatment then those who did not and an 11 percent reduction in recidivism from inmates who participated in drug treatment while in prison."

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