I strongly recommend reading the commentary on Larry Corcoran's panicked words on the Chron yesterday, from the good folks over at the Prison Movement Blog. Just to whet your appetite, Corcoran, spokesman for CCPOA, said yesterday:
"This short-term savings is going to have long-term costs, and the costs will be measured, unfortunately, in lives. . . I anticipate some incredibly sensational crime committed by an individual that should have been incarcerated."
Now, granted, I entirely agree that mass releases are a very bad short-term solution for a big problem. Releasing people without skills or support programs into an abysmal job market is an extremely faulty strategy. Nevertheless, one would hope that the mass-released folks would not be the ones committing "sensational crimes", nor is it ever a good idea to focus on those as the catalysts of public policy. Our pals at Prison Movement dissect this better than I could, pointing out inaccuracies, lack of logic, and moral hysteria, but I'll just add this: at a time when public opinion is probably swaying away from moral panics toward cost-benefit analysis, I doubt this will win many hearts. Corcoran may be speaking the language of yesterday to an audience facing today's budget shortages.