Small prisons should have less tax to pay for them

Posted: 10/18/2021 12:48:54 PM I agree with Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane (“A case for ‘smaller is smarter’ at Hampshi...



Posted: 10/18/2021 12:48:54 PM

I agree with Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane (“A case for ‘smaller is smarter’ at Hampshire County Jail,” October 6) than the smaller prisons, and I add the smaller ones. prisons, are better.

However, when prisons hold fewer people – as Hampshire County Jail now does, as prisons across the Commonwealth now do (state prison occupancy rate is 58%) – our taxes to pay them should also decrease.

Right now half a billion of our tax dollars are used to keep about 6,000 people locked up in Massachusetts jails. More than half of the 6,000 people have not been convicted of anything. Hampshire County Jail has a capacity of 287 people. According to the Department of Corrections, as of September 6, 2021, 37 people have been sentenced and 92 have been remanded in the prison. A total of 129 people, or 45% of the capacity.

The 2021 budget for the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Department is $ 15,105,790. You read correctly.

Additionally, the Hampshire County Sheriff’s contract with phone provider ICSolutions charges incarcerated people, or more likely their loved ones, 14 cents a minute or $ 2.10 for a 15-minute call. Seventy-eight percent of all money generated from appeals goes back to the sheriff’s department for so-called “site commissions,” also known as bribes.

Besides Hampden County, with 85% kickbacks, Hampshire County has the second highest number of “commissions” in the state. Sheriffs say the money generated from appeals to family members goes to “programs.” One has to wonder if $ 15 million is not enough to cover the costs instead of family members paying for programs for their loved ones.

I am for very, very small prisons with fewer people in prison. I would prefer prisons to be smaller and our taxes to be allocated to what will prevent people from going to jail: on-demand drug treatment and community programs, affordable housing, free vocational training for adults, health services mental health and investments in free, comprehensive education for children, to name just a few of the strategies we know lead to fewer incarcerations and much better lives.

Lois Ahrens

Northampton

The writer is the founding director of the Real Cost of Prisons project. A national organization based in Northampton.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Small prisons should have less tax to pay for them
Small prisons should have less tax to pay for them
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