New Prison, or Alternatives?

Would you rather spend $175 million on a new prison, or on other much-needed state services like transportation or education?  That’s the choice Missouri is facing. According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, Missouri has the fastest-growing female prison population in the nation. If the trend continues, Missouri’s projected growth is 23 percent. This would facilitate the need for a new women’s prison by 2020. And that doesn’t take into consideration the additional $27 million it takes to operate the prison.

The Justice Reinvention Task Force (convened by the governor) has proposed measures to reduce recidivism, expand drug courts and allocate $8 million to be spent this year on improvements to behavioral health treatment resources, noting that 88 percent of people admitted to prison have substance abuse issues. Will the legislature support these ideas? Stay tuned.