Unintended consequences

Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Related Letter:

P.O.P. clarification

I share "Pissed Off Parents" founder Theresa Williams' sympathy for the victims of sex offenders (Empire, Jan. 13). I also believe that POP-proposed legislation to eliminate prisoners' time off for good behavior would provide grave repercussions unforeseen by POP.

Abolishing good behavior would remove an enormous incentive prison officials wield over prisoners while concomitantly forcing a choice between enormous tax increases or the layoff of teachers and law enforcement officials (or some other as yet undefined budget cuts).

First, corrections officers and other prisoners would be endangered by this abolishment of good time as prisoners would no longer fear jeopardizing good time. Second, since the abolishment would increase overall jail time by up to 50 percent (jailing an Alaskan costs about $40,000 per year on average), enormous amounts of cash must be found to fund this initiative. Since POP is likely not interested in increasing harm within the correctional community or shifting tax revenue from education and law enforcement to warehousing criminals who have behaved well during their prison time, in view of these two important issues, POP may want to reconsider their position on good time.

Aaron M. Clemens

Washington, D.C.

Clemens, of Juneau, is second-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center. - Editor

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