For nearly 30 years, the nation has been guided by the principle, "If you do the crime, you can do the time." Lots of time. Yet as governments struggle to contend with steep, recessionary budget cuts, ideas about how to handle prisoners are changing. AsÂ The New York Times reports, some states, including Colorado, are closing prisons and looking for alternatives. Advocates for prison reform, who argue that locking people up doesn't necessarily make communities safer, say the financial crisis has created "political cover" to force a new look at a system that incarcerates 2 million people across the nation and supervises 5 million more on parole and probation (viaÂ USA Today). Colorado has even proposed to do away with the death penalty (read more about that debate in a recent edition ofÂ 5280) for financial reasons. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently did just that in his state (via theÂ New Mexico Independent). Prisons are on Colorado's "ugly list," which recommends $156 million in overall cuts from this fiscal year's budget and $786 million from next year's, reportsÂ The Associated Press.
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