Letters to the Editor

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PRISONS: Those life sentences are costly

Letter by Tom Martin, Sumner on March 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm with 25 Comments »
March 28, 2011 3:12 pm

When state money is so very tight, do we not need to spend it where it will get the best results?

When programs are expensive but yet produce negative results, is it not time that we direct our money elsewhere?

When our “3-Strikes” law was promoted, it was supposed to apply to the “most violent criminals.” On a scale of 1 to 16, we find that some 72 percent of those serving life sentences under this law have been convicted of low-level-4 offenses. Each one of these life sentences has a cost to the taxpayer of at least $1 million. Some 200 people currently imprisoned for low-level offenses represent some $200 million.

We need money to spend on preventive programs, on education, on health care. We need to spend our money where it will get the best results.

Leave a comment Comments → 25
  1. Yes, locking up criminals is expensive.

    But these folks are not nice people. They hurt folks, not just once, but three freaking times!!!! They are just plain evil!!!

    Locking them up is something I will gladly pay for.

  2. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Mr. Martin should read the WA State Constitution. The priorities of this state are education and public safety, not fund wasteful social programs that have proven to be failures.

    Ask the victims of these criminal, and I am one, how they feel about early release of these scumbags. Instead I say let them rot. And if money is your worry take steps to reduce the cost of the correctional system. Instead democrats are trying to pass a bill to expand the collective bargaining for prison guards that the fiscal note says will cost millions.

    Want to save money at the prison, start treating prisoners like prisoners, not like they were staying at the Holiday Inn. Stop coddling these scums of society and make prison a place of punishment. Rehabilitation doesn’t work, just look at the rates of repeat offenders. Why do prisons cost so much? Liberal policies at the prison and the unions are the blame. I say return to beard and water and bologna sandwiches on Sunday. No TV and internet and all the other comforts of home. Lock them down and you only need half the guards.

  3. whatIdid says:

    Interesting statistic… wish I knew where you got it.

  4. Here’s a few ideas to save money on life sentences,

    Just dust of the electric chair….

    Adds too much of an electric bill? Just go back to a tree and a noose…

    No trees? Then the cheapest is just the cost of a bullet….

    No one willing to pull the trigger? Contract it out to the experienced Chinese…

  5. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Here you go whatidid.
    The overall rate
    of recidivism for men was 64.6% compared to 50.5%
    among women. African Americans account for 3.5% of
    the population in Washington, a disproportionately high
    13.6% of all sentences, and had the highest recidivism
    rate of all racial groups at 71.5%. Native Americans, the
    smallest group with 1.7% of the general population
    received 2.6% of all sentences and had 65.4%
    recidivism. Caucasians, the largest segment of the
    general population, 77.6%, received 72% of all
    sentences with recidivism at 61.1%. Hispanic women
    accounted for the lowest overall recidivism


  6. taxed enough in tacoma is 100% correct – prison is for punishment, punishment means prison / jail time, not a Spa Retreat !!! No television, no weights, no library, no conjugal visits, no nothing 23 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. America is too soft of crime and criminals. Get rid of the easy money red light cameras, cell-phone talker fines and deal with real crime. Time to get the Barneys off the Dole and back on real patrol !!!

  7. “on criminals” not “of criminals.”

  8. beard and water – taxed spells like I do !!! And heck with Bologna – it’s $4-5 a lb, more like Underwood Deviled Ham, PB&J and SPAM

  9. the3rdpigshouse says:

    How about we use the monies to build gallows and start improving the gene pool!!!

  10. Why is it that only 1 county (Maricopa County) in the whole country treats their prisoners like prisoners. I agree with taxedenoughintacoma, The prisoners should be treated just like they are in Maricopa county were they sleep in tents, The men wear pink, & eat green baloney sandwiches. This will never happen here in Washington because this is the sympathy state. Make the earn the luxury of not having to work

  11. Right on ,TOOCAN, the3rd,jintz,taxed,and fatuous!! I agree with all of you !! This state is waaay to soft on crinimals and agree Arizona’s got the right idea. Prisons are there for the crinimal to serve punishment time, their (repeated) unlawful actions should not earn them all this coddling and sympathy !!!

  12. Victor33 says:

    We need to make the Maricopa County sheriff a United States Sheriff and put him in charge of the whole US Prison System. He has the respect of the prisoners, he has the lowest cost system in the US and he knows what he is doing. Arizona has a huge amount of open land that could be used for a USA prison system. They could even cultivate and grow their own food. But of course that would save money, and we do not do that in this country .

  13. No one willing to pull the trigger? Contract it out to the experienced Chinese…

    So….is it an all-American value to aspire to be like the Communist Chinese government?

  14. harleyrider1 says:

    Hi Tom,
    Great letter! Tell the warden what time you are stopping by to pick up these non-violent people to come live with you.

    You are welcome to your beliefs. Hell, I would applaud them if you actually lived them. You see Tom, you want these felons out but you want them to live in our neighborhoods instead of living in your house.

    Do you even understand what a felony crime is, what three (3) felony crimes are, and how hard it is to be convicted of just one felony crime in this state? Oh, and if you think identity theft has no impact, or bilking people out of their life savings, or breaking into people’s homes – I wish that experience for you. I guarantee you would get an understanding if you would just let the next 2 or 3 felons that do their time in prison, come live with you and your family.

  15. omega629 says:

    Wow, Washington is a bunch of pansies.

  16. whatIdid says:

    Sorry taxedenough… the link you provided doesn’t address the statistics the writer stated. Thank you tho.

  17. 42.9% of all statistics are made up on the fly!

  18. scott0962 says:

    So what’s your solution to the problem Mr. Martin? Can we put you down for a half-way house for former lifers next door to your home? (You might want to talk to your neighbors first.)

  19. nonstopjoe says:

    For life sentence prisoners there’s no need for rehabilitation and education programs. Therefore, a barebones penetentiary in eastern WA should suffice and be far cheaper to operate.

  20. How about three strikes and your DEAD. Not sure how much a bullet costs, but I’ll pay for all that are needed.

  21. Ummmm……8th Amendment.

  22. BlaineCGarver says:

    It’s funny that prisoners live way better and safer than our Military fighting wars…..Or, heck, even basic training. A couple years of basic training, and not many will want to go back to jail. Sheriff Joe has the answer, as well.

  23. klthompson says:


    Go for it! I have always recommended a reinstatement of the Draft. No exemptions, no exceptions, other than physical disability. If Switzerland can do it we should be able to do the same. It gave me a different perspective on life.

  24. ummmmmmmmmmmm….8th amendment means nothing. Death by the state is OK, we already do, lets just broaden those we kill. Save money, once again, I’ll provide the bullets. If the want the shot, I’ll pay for the meds

  25. 8th amendment means nothing.

    Based upon what? You are proposing extending capital punishment for 3 strikes offenders and justifying it by saying that states already kill murderers so there shouldn’t be any problem with killing repeat offenders when they get caught with their third felony – even if it isn’t violent.

    The Bill of Rights only means something if it is extended to everyone.

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