Budget cuts should not include releasing inmates early

Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, issued the following statement in response to the Department of Corrections (DOC) proposal to save money by reducing the state’s prison population by about 30 percent.

“The implications of this proposal could have devastating effects on families and communities across our state. A move like this shows that DOC does not value public safety or the costs that will surely be borne by local communities and victims throughout our state. It will most certainly overwhelm local law enforcement and jails. It ignores the fact that most property crimes, fueled by illicit drug use and addiction, often turn into more serious offenses. This comes on the heels of the current DOC administration’s improper released of 3,000 inmates and where the governor has already released over 1,000 prisoners prematurely this year due to COVID-19. If implemented, this proposal will be the governor’s release of prisoners on steroids.

“Violent criminals and sex offenders should not benefit from early release. We are sending the wrong message to the victims of their crimes. Additionally, this proposal is silent on victim notification. Do they get a say in what happens to these offenders? This certainly will not deter violent crimes in the future.

“As we look at cost saving measures at the state level, we need to ask ourselves if the risks outweigh the benefits. In this case, they absolutely do. Public safety needs to be one of our top priorities.”