by Max Brantley
John Brummett explains why the recent $100 million state budget cut isn't such a big deal. There's plenty of flex in a much larger state budget.
The stuff rolls down hill. The biggest loser -- prisons -- will pay for the ongoing corrections shortfalls in ways the system always has. 1) Release more criminals sooner; 2) screw the counties. County jails are already serving as cut-rate prisons. They are crammed with people who should be in prisons that don't have room to take them (1,600 the last time state Rep. Allen Kerr re-sounded his alarm). So the state pays a pitiful amount -- $28 a day -- for counties to house prisoners that cost much more a day to hold ($52 in criminal-rich Pulaski County). The counties bleed and, worse, they have no room to hold career criminals who burgle with little fear that they'll be held very long should they happen to be caught taking a TV and laptop in lightning strikes on dozens of homes.
Unintended consequences, I know. But consequences.
Gov. Beebe, how about finding a money hidey hole to take your prisoners out of my county jail?