Ozmint wants to let prisoners go — what else can he do?

This just in from the AP:

{BC-SC—State Budget-Prisons,0113}
{SC prison chief preps inmate-release plans}
{Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated.}
   COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s prison chief says he has a plan to release inmates early because of a budget shortfall.
   Prison agency director Jon Ozmint told the state’s financial oversight board Thursday he’s prepared to submit an early release plan to the Legislature to ease a deficit of more than $14 million. Earlier this year, legislators rejected Ozmint’s proposal to cut time off the end of sentences.
   The Budget and Control Board is monitoring Ozmint’s shortfall. Gov. Mark Sanford heads the board and says he’s not ready to endorse that kind of plan. He says people committing crimes should know sentences will be carried out.

That’s a short item, but it raises several points:

  • The governor is not the "head" of the Budget and Control Board, in the sense of controlling anything. He’s one of five votes.
  • He IS, however, the boss of Jon Ozmint. Meaning that any plan Mr. Ozmint comes up with that doesn’t have his blessing seems unlikely to see the light of day. Of course, maybe some of those lawmakers who give Ozmint such short shrift because he’s Sanford’s man will actually pay attention if they think it would irk the governor. But the smart money would be on lawmakers doing what they always do — continue to shamefully neglect Corrections, when they’re not pointlessly persecuting it.
  • Sanford picked Ozmint because he was a very conservative, small-gummint sort of Republican. So why would they disagree on this point? Because Mr. Ozmint has for several years had the responsibility, day after day, of actually trying to run the prisons and keep the prisoners inside them with a budget that has shrunk year after years. And faced with that reality, he knows he can’t keep doing it. Mark Sanford’s opinions regarding what it costs to run government properly are entirely theoretical, and immune to practical reality.
  • I recall Mr. Ozmint showing me a while back exactly how thin security was at the time — this many people per that many prisoners, THIS part of a perimeter covered but not THAT part. It was very alarming. And that was several budget cuts ago.
  • We’ve said this many times; perhaps someday the folks at the State House will listen: As much as we need to appropriate more for prisons, the REAL solution is to stop locking up so many people we don’t NEED to lock up — a category that covers most non-violent offenders.
  • Henry McMaster needs to back off on the "no-parole" stuff, and ramp up his efforts to push alternative sentencing.

17 thoughts on “Ozmint wants to let prisoners go — what else can he do?

  1. Capital A

    If you released those arrested for selling crumbs of weed instead of prosecuting and jailing them at many times the cost of their offense, much room could appear suddenly…as if out of a purple haze.
    I get irritated to no end when I see some gung ho, military-cropped Dudley Doright on Cops celebrate like a dog fetching a shot duck. Of course, this comes only after he has just wrestled down, roughed up (funny part, actually)and arrested some Dimebag Dan, driven through multiple stop lights and generally threatened to undo God’s creation within a 10 mile radius. This grand drama usually concludes with the entrance of the almighty and anticlimactic Stop Sticks.
    All the while, the Charles Keatings and Dennis DeConcinis of the world sip tea with Mother Theresa and literally laugh all the way from the bank…to the next economic loophole which will ruin the lives of thousands and merit them hardly any much-deserved punishment.
    And justice for all…
    (Don’t misunderstand my criticism of policy as an indictment of the brave men and women who are our constables. Much like our soldiers in Iraq, these everyday heroes are vital and necessary for our democracy, but just like those soldiers again, I disagree with their orders for deployment and employment.)
    We finally need to reject the death throes of the failed DaddyBushian War on Drugs and accept that drug use is a medical and emotional problem for the most part, not a criminal one.
    Tasers, if needed, then treatment… Many of these wrecks and wretches can be saved.

  2. Barchibald T Barlow

    Cap A, I agree. End the War on Drugs and go after the real threat, the dirty rice peddlers!
    But seriously, I agree.

  3. Doug Ross

    I agree. If you didn’t steal something or hurt someone, you shouldn’t end up behind bars.
    Fines? Sure. But jail should be for people who actually are a threat to society.

  4. p.m.

    You know why we haven’t decriminalized drugs, Cap?
    Holier-than-thou, in-your-face attitudes like yours.
    Man, take a chill pill. South Carolina’s overcrowded prisons have nothing to do with Charles Keating, other than in your overactive mind.

  5. Ozzie

    Have you ever visited the prisons, p.m.? Even the die-hard conservative Chuck Colson has been yelling for years that we need to stop locking everybody up. We need a system of restitution for a lot of these people, not incarceration.

  6. Capital A

    p.m.s, you are correct when you say Charles Keating had nothing to do with jail. THAT was EXACTLY my point, as you swim in full irony.
    A chill pill? What is this: 1989?
    I’m not even worked up; I just expressed a logical viewpoint that you find disagreeable. Feel free to suggest a clear, dissenting opinion. That’s how these blog things work, most often.
    Drugs haven’t been legalized for myriad reasons. Have you researched those along with the strata of prisoner population in SC and the nation as a whole?
    As I said before, we’ll wait on you to catch up.

  7. p.m.

    “Chill pill” was an ironic usage, Cap. It was a word play on decriminalizing drugs, not just an old-fashioned expression.
    Now that I’ve caught you up, did I say we shouldn’t decriminalize drugs?
    Do I think we should?
    To some extent, yes. Marijuana, definitely. Whatever you’re doing, I couldn’t say.
    Am I going to call someone a “gung ho, military-cropped Dudley Doright” and then expect him to see things my way?
    No, not when decorum works better.
    Why am I not displaying decorum with respect to you?
    I have deduced you have nothing to teach me.
    Am I going to take blog lessons from you?
    I just answered that question.

  8. Bill

    Cabinet agency spending has risen FASTER that non-cabinet spending.
    Sanford talks a good game, but his agencys spend lots, and lots. and lots.

  9. bud

    Capital A took the words right out of my web browser. Massachusetts has apparently adopted a sensible approach to marijuana in a state resolution. I heard something in passing on election day that suggested they were going to legalize marijuana. Maybe I just heard it wrong but if so good for them.

  10. beetrave

    Well, ditto on releasing all those people caught up in minor Reefer Madness arrests.
    The main point for me is that we need to reduce our dependence on volatile sales taxes. I would gladly see a shift in my personal tax burden from sales tax to income tax, because I already itemize the state income taxes anyway. I know that any such proposal would cause people to get their pitchforks and start hollering about “raising taxes,” but we can’t have our state agencies work well if they have no way to reliably predict revenue & budgets.

  11. Michelle

    This economic mess has shown us one thing: that you cannot cut taxes and expect the government to run as it should without that revenue. Sure I loved seeing my property taxes sliced to the bone but at what cost? To see the prisons open up their doors and release convicts early? The property tax slashes were great but that was before the economy took a nose dive and retail sales collapsed. It would be nice if we had real leadership in this state to figure out a workable solution but we don’t so oh well, I guess it’s prisoners on the loose and God knows what else for us all until the economy turns around again.

  12. slugger

    There are certain truths about elements of our society that nobody wants to admit. We have the same people committing most of the crime. Time and time again. Most of the crime is to get money to buy drugs. Even the violent crimes are sometime committed by those on drugs.
    What do we do first? Admit that we have a drug committed crime problem. Admit that the war on drugs that has been going on for decades does not work.
    How do we solve the problem? We make the drugs available legally. If the individual wants to kill themselves on drugs, so be it. At least that way we take the crime out of the equation. We still might get killed by the person on drugs but they will not be killing you to get the money to pay for the drugs.
    How will they get the drugs legally. They will be issued to prescription after having signed up as a habitual drug user. How will they pay for the drug prescription? They will be issued a card.
    Will this be cheaper than paying for the war on crime? Will this be cheaper than putting them in jail? Will the taxpayer be better off without having to pay to house all the drug users that commit all the drug related crimes?
    I say what we are presently doing about the crime situation in the nation is not working. Let us try something new.
    The criminal that just would rather rob you instead of taking a job should be recognized as a habitual offender and a drag on society and there could be a farm prison somewhere (maybe in a closed military base) that they would live away from society and grow their own food, repair their own living quarters, sew their own clothes and be self-sufficient in any and all ways that are attainable.
    At money at the situation. I would like to feel safe in my home least do something. Instead of complain that what we have now does not work and we constantly throw and on the road when I travel. I would like to know that when my children and grandchildren are out at night that they can feel safe on the streets of the United States of America.

  13. slugger

    The last paragraph was changed by the internet but I hope that you can understand what I was trying to say.
    I was trying to say that you can keep on throwing money at the situation but you will not solve the problem. We need to feel safe here in the United
    States of America when we ride our roads and think that our children will be safe at all times either day or night when they are out on their own.
    We can solve this problem. All it takes is balls. Where are the real men? We sure did not elect a real man to be president. He thinks it is cute to make jokes about Nancy Reagan. What do you think that world leaders think of our choice to be president? Maybe they think he is a joke?
    Oh well. I give up. Nothing is going to be done about the drug situation or the crime situation or the world situation or the turning this country into a socialist country.

  14. slugger

    The national security of the U.S., along its borders and in cities with organized drug trade, is an issue that must be addressed constantly. In doing so the FBI lists millions of dollars in rewards for the capture of Mexican drug kingpins. There are price tags on cartel members, and money available to those who are serious about fighting this war and profiting monetarily.
    Jerry Brewer, the Vice President of Criminal Justice International
    Taken from article on web “Fighting US-Mexico war against drugs”.

  15. Mike Griffin

    I have a son in system. I could write a book about. He is in there due to the lies and twisted truths of his parole officer, Mr. Thomlinson. He was a great Dad, had full custody of his daughter since she was about 6 months old until five. Then came drugs. He messed up and was punished. I said nothing as bad as it hurt. But I did think it a little ridiculous he received 6 years for 2nd degree burglary/non-violent. He went into an old friend of his dad’s house. His friend had died a very tragic death a couple of years back. My son was having a tough time with the loss, drugs and said he felt safe there. Even his friend’s dad ask that my son receive help, not prison. And just last night I saw someone receive 8 years for 2nd degree murder. Something sure as hell isn’t right. Especialy now he has just missed the birth of his son and, will in all likelyhood miss his first Christmas, all due to a parole officer who sat in front of the parole board and lied. I even ask him how he sat in there and lied. I ask him how he could sleep at night. My wife held my son’s medical records in front of him and pleaded he go back in there and tell the truth. We PLEADED for a polygraph and ask that the officer step forward and have one too. NOT A WORD! I spent 8 years in the United States Marine Corps and not about to give up. Even if my son was released tomorrow. This is an injustice that needs to be addressed and no one else should have to face a situation of this nature from this person. Thomlinson had 3 phone numbers and an exact address. My son would have been there in an instant. All he had to do was call, as did officer Byrd in the same building. Mr. Byrd, incidently, has been very direct, professional, and treated us with repsect. And Thomlinson said my son had “absconded”. I thank Heaven I did not know what the meant at the hearing. Well thanks to him another dangerous fugitive is off the street. Congratulations to this officer and I do hope he sleeps tonight. Please feel free to contact me. I have a ton of information. This only breaks the surface. There is power in numbers and class action lawsuits, if you have a similiar situation. We are going to the Director of SCDC, Mr. Jon Ozmint, who seems to have a good head on his shoulders, recognizes who should and shouldn’t be in the system and are wasting our money. He is a Citadel Graduate, which, in itself, speaks very highly of Mr. Ozmint. We will also be going to Governor Mark Sanford as well. No one on the parole board or any in the chain of command seem to want to acknowledge a grave injustice or clean up their own doorstep. Next will be the media! Someone out there will listen! Retreat, quit, give up, or back down, isn’t in the Marine Corps vocabulary. And we have no intention of letting go with the possiblity of someone else’s family member, and their families, having to suffer a grave injustice such as this.

  16. Valerie Crouch

    Govorner Sanford is the worst govorner I’ve ever seen.I have called over a hundred times about our crazy prison system which does not work and is the most unorganized and dumbest institution I’ve ever seen.Other states have already begun to change their systems.There have been grants to fund change since 2003.South Carolina has the most ignorant government and do not stay informed about what the federal government is doing.Many people 90% are in for non violent crimes.64% of them have mental disorders that can be treated with medication and they will get well.Also the rest of them have drug addictions and need counseling and support to recover from these issues.The rest are in for parole violations becasuse they do not have reentry programs to help these people get on their feet.Other states have these programs.Building prisons has become a money making industry which lines the pockets of some of these people.So they get tough on crime to line the pockets of many people.Maybe Governor Sanford gets his pockets lined since he is from Goldman Sacks an investment firm.All his buddies up there too.Please Govorner Sanford get a brain I’ve called at least 150 times.But you don’t keep in touch with common people.I can’t believe I voted for you 2 times.Other states are way ahead of South Carolina when it comes to actually getting these people out of the cycle of recidivism.It’s so shameful what our government has done and neglected to do.Someone from Massachusettes that I talked to said they had all kinds of programs for these people who have problems who get incarcerated.She said she heard “If you want to be on the bottom go to South Carolina”Thats the reputation we have with most of the United States.You people here in authority please get a brain.The solution is so simple and will save the state millions and help families and people to recover from drug addiction and mental illness.I’m so angry at these really ignorant uniformed people in authority.Do you people know how to use the internet? All kinds of solutions from many organizations there as well as the funds to do it.


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