Friday, February 17, 2012

Oregon Planning Prison Closures, Up to 400 Layoffs

Back on January 19th, in my post, "Endgame: Close the Prison, Kill the Town," I highlighted a story about the economic blow being dealt to the Sunshine State by the planned closings of a number of prisons. Now comes word from the Statesman that the same thing is happening on the opposite coast in Oregon:
The Oregon Department of Corrections is considering closing multiple prisons in the state’s 14,000-inmate, 14-prison corrections system, going far beyond previously disclosed plans to shut down one Salem facility.

Corrections leaders have drawn up budget-cutting plans that call for scrapping 1,500 to 1,800 beds and laying off 350 to 400 employees.

New corrections director Colette Peters outlined the potential cuts — totaling $17.2 million — in an e-mail sent to all DOC employees late Friday.
The big reason for these cuts is not a drop in the crime rate so much as it is because of budget cuts. It is just too expensive to continue to house millions of people as wards of the state:
The prospect of additional prison closures is rippling fear and anxiety through the 4,000-employee corrections agency, which has a two-year budget of $1.3 billion.

The budget crunch puts Peters squarely on the hot seat. She recently took the reins as corrections chief, moving from her post as director of the Oregon Youth Authority, the juvenile corrections system.

In her note to DOC employees, Peters said she had hoped to send out an introductory message to all agency employees without budget information.

“Unfortunately, this cannot be the case and I want (to) share information with you, as we are midway through the 2012 Legislative Session,” she wrote.

The DOC faced a $100 million gap in its budget prior to the legislative session, Peters said.
Of course, changing our insane drug laws and decriminalizing the possession of cocaine and marijuana would be a great first step towards lowering the prison population. The states have been slowly coming to their senses on this issue of late, but the federal government, under Obama no less, has actually been cracking down on those efforts. From this story and others like it, it's pretty obvious that something will soon have to give before the prison-industrial complex bankrupts every state government around the country.

Bonus: There aren't a lot of cool rock songs out there about Oregon for some reason, but here's one


  1. We have a great idea in Oregon Bill, we are going to outsource our prisoners to China! Less upkeep and we can forget about them.

    1. Shhh...don't say that out loud. They might actually DO it.

  2. The war on drugs has to be one of the stupidest policies ever, and tells you all you need to know about how deluded and duplicitous American society is. I mean, if addiction is a health issue, why would you put addicts in jail instead of a hospital or clinic? There's a real war going on in Mexico thanks to this - if drugs were legal and taxed, there would be plenty of revenue to treat addicts who want help. Aauuughhh! I guess if your name is Bush and you owned privatized prisons, it's all good.

    Here's a story TDS will appreciate:

  3. Curiosity question: How is it Social Security is insolvent with the US government owing the fund 2.7 trillion? I fully understand the long term problems but it isn't insolvent today or tomorrow. I, also, like the unfunded liabilities rant I read. I figure everything and everyone is insolvent on that line of reasoning. Every entity has future liabilities that are unfunded. Every entity is relying on projected future income to fund future bills. The money is not in their hands or whatever to cover those future bills. And if the money can't meet the future bills, adjustments are made in income or the debt.

    Guess I get more than a little tired of the perpetual rants against entitlements by people who, at this time, don't need them. I want to see rants about the totally out of control health cares system, the out of control public employee system and our perpetual war machine. But such a rant would not further enflame an already illiterate the American masses.

    1. Eugene - the fund is insolvent for the very reason that the USG "paying the money back" directly adds to the deficit, which at a time when the budget is already spiraling out of control is a real problem.

      The politicos "stole" the trust fund to mask deficits in prior years and now the bill is coming due. The problem with Social Security is not an "entitlement mentality" or that it is a "Ponzi scheme," but that it has been horribly, I would argue criminally, mismanaged by our so-called "leaders" of behalf of a general voting public which was completely asleep at the switch.

  4. would allowing commercial bail and utilizing the bail bond filing fees for the state help close that gap? Also allowing private industry to capture fugitives instead of spending state/county/local funds on marshalls, etc. it seems would save money. It certainly does in Clark County Nevada where the filing fees alone help maintain jails and the DOC in general. Not to mention $ is allocated to highways, etc. Not just saying this because I work for a bail bonds company in Las Vegas, but the proof is in the pudding. Wisconsin and Illinois face similar budget problems as Oregon, so maybe there is something to that.