The Phoenix Flyer

What do you think? The ACLU wants to cut the state prison population in half

By: - September 7, 2018 2:50 pm

The American Civil Liberties Union recently published a report on how to cut Florida’s prison population in half: Reduce the length of time served.

The ACLU “blueprint” said that even cutting a few months off a prison sentence can go a long way to reducing the number of people incarcerated overall.

There are nearly 98,000 people living in state prisons – more than the population of Flagler County – and correctional institutions don’t have the staff to handle that kind of number, the ACLU said. And, the report said, it’s an undue burden on taxpayers.

“Over the past five decades, the U.S. has dramatically increased its reliance on the criminal justice system as a way to respond to drug addiction, mental illness, and poverty,” the report said.

If the state shortened prison sentences for drug possession, low-level property crimes and other non-violent offenses, it would have a meaningful impact on the number of people behind bars, the report said.

The ACLU did not say how long it would take to cut the state’s prison population in half.

“It’s time for the U.S. to end its reliance on incarceration,” the report said, “and invest instead in alternatives to prison and in approaches better designed to break the cycle of crime and recidivism, and help people rebuild their lives.”

Note: This story was updated 9/7/2018 to include links to the ACLU report. 

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CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers

CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.