Home Blogs Opinion Public safety reform offers better return on investment

Public safety reform offers better return on investment

| Print |  Email
Opinion
Tuesday, April 23, 2013

 

By Ryan Deckert, Nik Blosser and J. David Zehntbauer | OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS

If what we strive for as a state is education over incarceration, now is the time for business leaders and elected officials to face Oregon’s expensive public safety system with the same courage and forward-thinking that has made Oregon famous in the health care reform arena.

Oregon’s prison population has grown by nearly 50% — to over 14,000 inmates in the last decade. Taxpayers now spend more than $1.3 billion each biennium to pay for corrections. Leaders of large and small businesses across the state need to reexamine this expensive system and look for proven, cost-effective ways to slow this growth in incarceration that is draining more and more money away from other public safety and policy priorities.

Recent trends in corrections growth threaten our leadership position among the states and our ability to deliver citizens the best possible public safety results. The state projects our prison population will grow by an additional 2,200 beds in the next 10 years. This prison growth, fueled mostly by nonviolent offenders, will cost taxpayers an additional $600 million for the construction of new prisons during this period.

To address these escalating and unsustainable costs, the Governor appointed the Commission on Public Safety, a group comprised of a bi-partisan group of legislators, business leaders and law enforcement.  The Commission determined that although Oregon has led the nation in effective corrections policies, we are losing ground on some of these achievements over the past 10 years. 

Specifically, a public safety system focused primarily on increased incarceration is less cost-effective than evidence-based, alternative options. Today, Oregon offenders are staying in prison longer than they have at any point in the last decade, despite a growing body of research that points to diminishing public safety returns of longer prison sentences.  Some offenders are more likely to be successful when they are held accountable in community-based corrections programs; where a combination of accountability to the judicial system coupled with needed interventions like drug and alcohol treatment can be effectively implemented. Since 2000, 17 states making similar changes have reduced their incarceration rate and have also seen a drop in crime.

HB 3194 is the bill that encompasses the policy recommendations of the Commission on Public Safety. It represents the sound financial practices that successful Oregon businesses use:  identifying smart ways to cut costs and reinvesting those savings into products that will bring a return on investment. HB 3194 finds savings through smart, evidence based, cost effective programs and reinvests those savings back into community-based programs proven to reduce recidivism, giving us a better return on our public safety investment. Oregon’s public safety system can be more effective from a public policy and cost savings stand point by utilizing appropriate judicial discretion in sentencing, using cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment tools in crafting sentences and reducing recidivism. 

Oregon needs to continue to create safe communities for business, and for our families, employees and customers. In order to continue on this path, Oregon must get smarter about how we punish, rehabilitate, and re-enter offenders into our society so they do not commit more crimes.  Oregonians and our legislators should support the public safety reform package that is before the legislature in HB 3194.

Ryan Deckert is president of the Oregon Business Association. Nik Blosser is president of Celilo Group Media and chair of the Oregon Business Association Board of Directors. J. David Zehntbauer is a partner with Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue.

Editor's Note:  Oregon Business accepts opinion pieces on topics relevant to the state's business community. See Op-Ed submission guidelines here.

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 RE: Public safety reform critical to stemGuest 2013-04-30 18:14:26
I agree. My son received 3 felony charges for performing a senior prank last year that ultimately caused no damage to persons or property. If found guilty of these charges he will start his adult life in the states prison system while child molesters and violent criminals are being released from the jail in Eugene. I believe that there are better ways to spend tax payer dollars than on a trial for a childhood prank.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...

Moving the needle

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

I was in a rut. A few months ago, I was at my desk trying to come up with cover story ideas for our June “green” issue.  But I was stuck on a concept that is a bit too tried and true in the magazine business.


Read more...

The 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GreenLogoOregon is known for its green-minded citizens, and many workers are attracted to firms and organizations that practice green, not just pay lip service to it.


Read more...

Green Your Workplace seminar held at Nines Hotel

News
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GreenYourWorkplacelogoOBMOregon Business magazine's  "Green Your Workplace" seminar featured a panel of sustainability experts from small, medium and large organizations. The seminar drew 70 people and took place in the Nines Hotel this morning.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

The CEO of Axiom EPM, Peri Pierone, and the co-founder of McMenamins, Mike McMenamin, share their recent reads.


Read more...

OB Video: Building trade ties with the EU

News
Monday, June 16, 2014
BritEmbCampionBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

The Oregon economy could get a boost from a new trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the European Union.


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS