by Max Brantley
New policies on parole fill jails, prisons
The D-G article has many more details of the practical impact of tougher parole revocation policies and discussion of bureaucratic changes to better oversee parolees and probationers.
What's missing — and I don't mean this is a fault of the reporting — is what legislators who've been pressing this issue are going to do now that the yapping Yorkie has sunk its teeth into a speeding tractor-trailer rig. At some point, the discussions of parole and probation policies and fine-tinning of them must end and the discussion of operating sufficient jail/prison/community correction detention centers must begin. That means money.
I raised this briefly the other day with Sen. David Sanders, who's been a driving force on examination of parole policies. He responded first by talking of alternatives — better handling of parolees released into the community, with housing and meaningful and legal opportunities for societal participation, and alternatives to lockup, such as electronic monitoring. These are worthy and compassionate thoughts, particularly from a Republican. But 1) they also cost money and 2) you're still going to need more lockup space and the guards to operate it. While cutting taxes, of course.
Sanders did acknowledge one of the most difficult parts of the puzzle — the concentration of offenders in one place, Little Rock. Here, the primary vocational opportunity for former offenders is the burgeoning car- and home-burglary industry.