"After decades of pursuing lock-'em-up policies, states are scrambling to reduce their prison populations in the face of tight budgets, making fundamental changes to their criminal justice systems as they try to save money. ... California, with the nation's second-largest prison system, is considering perhaps the most dramatic proposal--releasing 40,000 inmates to save money and comply with a court ruling that found the state's prisons overcrowded. ... Russ Marlan, a spokesman fior the Corrections Department in Michigan ... [said] 'When you're not having budget troubles, that's when we implemented many of these lengthy drug sentences and zero-tolerance policies [that] really didn't work.' ... State Atty. Gen. Jack Conway sued to overturn the thousands of early releases, arguing that a retroactive change to sentences is illegal and risky. The case was heard before the Kentucky Supreme Court in August. ... Still, Conway said that he too was concerned about the prison population, and that he wanted to bring it down by targeting nonviolent offenders for early release and expanding drug courts", my emphasis, Nicholas Riccardi at the LAT, 5 September 2009, link: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-prison-release5-2009sep05,0,5705309.story.
"The wheels of justice in Georgia are grinding more slowly each day. Cuts in spending for the state court system have led to fewer court dates available for hearings and trials, creating a growing backlog of cases. With serious criminal matters being heard first, delays are stretching to months for many civil, domestic and minor criminal cases. The state court system, which handles more than 150,000 cases a year, had to slash spending by almost 15% in the past fiscal year, and more cuts loom. The state's budget shortfall widened to $3.7 billion over the past 18 months. ... According to a July survey by the Washington-based National Center for State Courts, at least 28 state court systems have imposed hiring freezes, 23 have frozen salaries and seven have planned or imposed salary reductions. ... In April, a group of attorneys with the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human rights filed suit against the public-defender system, law-enforcement officials and state revenue officials. The suit, filed in the Superior Court of Elbert County on behalf of five plaintiffs and 'all those similarly situated,' alleges that many poor defendants are 'left to languish in jail' and that 'some have been without counsel for over six months' ... Bert Brantley, spokesman for [Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said], 'every piece of government believes its spending is the most important, but clearly when you're governor you have to look at the state's overall responsibilities'," Paulo Prada and Corey Dade at the WSJ, 8 September 2009, link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125236538620490881.html.
Michigan looks like inmate paradise compared to Texas. 12,000 of its 48,000 inmates are parole eligible, 25%. Texas has 91,000 of 156,000 imates parole or mandatory supervision eligible, 58%. Our inmates serve about 250% of their minimum time. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) does not report the actual percentage but I estimated it from a TDCJ 2008 report. Michigan, with 10.0 million people has a .0048 incarceration rate: Texas with 24.3 million has a .0064 rate, 25% higher. We should follow Michigan's lead.