Pew Center on the States Business Leaders Make the Case for Corrections Reform
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Issue Brief JANUARY 2010 Right-Sizing Prisons: Business Leaders Make the Case for Corrections Reform You don’t normally see the business community leading efforts to reform state policies on public safety issues, yet in several states around the country business leaders are doing just that. With states facing the worst fiscal crisis in a generation and spending one in every 15 state discretionary dollars on corrections,1 business leaders are adding their voices to calls for more cost-effective ways to protect public safety and hold offenders accountable, while also providing the education and infrastructure they need for a thriving economy. Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project recently spoke with business leaders from five states who have been at the forefront of these efforts. They discussed why and how they are working with policy makers to develop strategies that can yield less crime at a lower cost. Kentucky LEADERS Dave Adkisson President & CEO, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board, American Chamber of Commerce Executives Q FLORIDA ILLINOIS Barney T. Bishop III President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Industries of Florida MICHIGAN Frank H. Beal Executive Director, Chicago Metropolis 2020 Board member, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest Business organizations traditionally have not been James R. Holcomb Vice President for Business Advocacy and Associate General Counsel, Michigan Chamber of Commerce Erin Hubert Vice President and General Manager, Entercom Radio Board Chair, Citizens Crime Commission We found that even after the economy tanked the involved in sentencing and corrections issues. How did you Florida Department of Corrections requested to get involved and why are these issues important to the build three new private prisons at a cost of $300 business community? million to build and $81 million a year to operate. Bishop: I got involved in this issue about The Governor was talking about bonding it, so two-and-a-half years ago when I began talking instead of $300 million, you’re talking about $1 with other business leaders about whether we billion by the time you pay off the bonds. A were spending our corrections dollars effectively. In this Brief: OREGON 3. What policy changes are you advancing? 4. How are you advancing reform? 5. What challenges have you encountered? Adkisson: In Kentucky, we conducted a We don’t have an income tax in Florida, so the A business community is going to be the ones that major analysis of our state budget and found pay for this investment. To the extent that we that certain areas of the budget were growing change the way that we’re doing business, spend faster than the overall budget and faster less money with a better outcome, that’s in the than the growth of our state’s economy. The business community’s interest. corrections budget was one of those areas that had experienced significant growth in the past In addition to the extraordinary costs, the decade—growth that is unsustainable as state business community knows this is an important budgets continue to tighten up. issue because we’re going to need these kids and adults coming out of the juvenile justice system and adult prison system in order to create a “We were alarmed that money was being siphoned off from education and channeled into the growing cost of corrections, and we knew we needed to address this issue.” thriving economy in this state. A Holcomb: Michigan faces severe economic challenges and the Michigan Chamber strongly believes that meaningful reforms impacting the size and scope of state government are necessary to revitalize our great state. There is little doubt that the Michigan Department of Corrections stands out as a state department — Dave Adkisson which is ripe for reform. Spending on corrections has exploded and now accounts for approximately 20 percent of the total General Fund/General Purpose dollars expended. In We also found that the growth in corrections fact, Michigan is now one of only five states was taking money that would have otherwise that spend more on corrections than it does on been spent on public education. Because higher education. public education is the business community’s This has made it essential for the business community to become involved in the corrections policy debate because every dollar spent on incarceration is a dollar that is unavailable for tax relief or other economic top priority for state investments, we were alarmed that money was being siphoned off from education and channeled into the growing cost of corrections, and we knew we needed to address this issue. revitalization efforts. Job providers have a A vested interest in making sure that Michigan’s issues through a board on which I serve called expensive correctional system is cost effective the Citizens Crime Commission, a coalition of and efficiently run. local business leaders who focus on public Hubert: I primarily got involved in these safety issues in Portland, Oregon. At the time 2 Public Safety Performance Project | Pew Center on the States the commission was formed, there was a work aggressively to ensure that their tax dollars fear that our city had become too lax with are not being wasted. We know there are no sentencing issues and crime rates were silver bullets. We are dedicated to participating quickly on the rise. Society’s level of faith in for the long haul in this battle because it will take the public safety system is in direct correlation numerous systemic modifications to improve to a healthy, vibrant, and economically sound Michigan’s correctional system and stabilize city, which is the reason for interest from the needed funding. business community. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce Board A Beal: An organization such as Chicago of Directors adopted a formal policy to Metropolis 2020 could choose a million issues support comprehensive corrections reform to address, but this is one where we felt that based on the following principles: reduction we could make a significant contribution. The of crime rates and recidivism; appropriated voices for reform have been quite limited and we dollars should be spent in the most effective thought that we could bring a new voice on the and efficient manner possible and all cost fiscal and economic side of the issue that wasn’t saving options must be considered; annual being articulated effectively. costs must be brought into line with national and regional averages; and policy and We got involved for two reasons. The first is a programmatic changes should be data-driven purely fiscal argument—that government is and based on results. spending too much money without seeing a good return on that investment. The second reason is that if you’re incarcerating people, you are incarcerating part of our workforce instead of educating them, and you’re taking away too THE RISING COST OF STATE CORRECTIONS Between 1987 and 2008, total state general fund expenditures on corrections rose 349 percent. $47.73 billion $50 billion many people from a productive economy. In the current system, we’re wasting human capital that could be put to productive uses. Improving the system will improve our economy and in the long run improve our financial situation because they end up paying taxes rather than costing taxpayers money. Q What specific policy changes are you and other business 40 30 20 10 leaders in your state advancing? A Holcomb: At the Michigan Chamber, we are well aware that we are not experts in all aspects of corrections policy; however, we do champion the interests of our members and $20.18 billion 0 $10.62 billion General fund expenditures Inflation adjusted 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 SOURCE: National Association of State Budget Officers, “State Expenditure Report” series; Inflation adjusted figures are based on a reanalysis of data in this series. NOTE: These figures represent state general funds. They do not include federal or local government corrections expenditures and typically do not include state funding from other sources. Right-Sizing Prisons: Business Leaders Make the Case for Corrections Reform 3 A Beal: We have advanced several policy by the General Assembly. And, we worked changes, including creating the Illinois to pass the Crime Reduction Act of 2009, Department of Juvenile Justice and creating based on a framework created by Pew, which an incentive system, called Redeploy Illinois, to transfers the successful juvenile model of fiscal keep juveniles out of state detention—an idea incentives to the adult system and creates a we borrowed from Ohio. Right now it’s cheap for unified information system so that we have a county to send a kid to the state corrections accurate information about what offenders’ risks system because that ends up being a state cost. and needs are so we can make sure to target So we changed the incentive so that if juveniles resources effectively and they have a better are dealt with in their home community, then chance of turning their lives around. we give some state resources back to the Hubert: We have a number of policy county to provide services for that juvenile as A opposed to sending him off to prison. This is now changes that have come through the Crime expanding state-wide because the evidence has Commission or through the Portland Business overwhelmingly shown that it reduces costs and Alliance (formerly the Chamber of Commerce), creates better results. including lobbying successfully for a juvenile drug court in Multnomah County. We also We were also very active in creating a drug published a children’s report after a year-long prison that is showing dramatic results in study on precursors that are most often found to reducing recidivism. We completely rewrote the lead to a life of crime. The study recommended Illinois Criminal Code to be more rehabilitative a continuum of programs for at risk youth that than punitive, which is now being considered research has shown to greatly reduce their likelihood of becoming juvenile offenders. This OF BOOKS AND BARS Between 1987 and 2008, the amount states spent on corrections more than doubled while the increase in higher education spending has been moderate. +137% Corrections led to $6 million being set aside to support the recommended youth programs. A Bishop: In 2008, we created the Coalition for Smart Justice to help advance reforms, which focused on two things initially. First, we wanted to put more dollars on the front end of the system in diverting people. If we can divert some of the people on the front end that don’t really need to be going to prison but need mental health, substance abuse, or other +24% Higher education SOURCE: National Association of State Budget Officers, “State Expenditure Report” series; Inflation adjusted figures are based on a reanalysis of data in this series. 4 services, we could save money and produce better results. Unlike several decades ago, we actually know now what works, and if we implement programs that the research proves are effective, we can spend fewer dollars to get Public Safety Performance Project | Pew Center on the States a better result. The people that we ought to be undertake research to study the issue, find the putting into prison are those that are the most proven outcomes, and then try to intercede with dangerous to society. For those that are not a our findings. danger and their crime is not significant, we Bishop: One thing we recently did was ought to divert them and address the issues A that they have. host a justice summit in Tampa. We had 280 people from across the state. We brought Second, we are looking to implement Senate liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Bill 2000, which created the Correctional Policy legislators, judges, business people, people from Advisory Council. We’re hopeful that in this next think tanks and private providers together to talk legislative session, we will be able to work with about how we can move the system forward. the legislature and the governor’s office to get this council up and running in order to make A Holcomb: We are doing it the old fashioned recommendations on further improvements that way: building coalitions, face-to-face visits with legislators and the executive branch, grassroots could be made in the system. education, activation of our membership and Q How are you and your colleagues attempting to move your state toward reforms? A aggressive outreach to the media and general public to foster public support for change. As a Adkisson: We have documented the member of the business community, it has been cost issues from an independent perspective very gratifying because several organizations that is not “soft on crime” or “tough on crime.” have joined together to amplify our voices and We are approaching the issues from a financial to provide policy makers with clear direction perspective and pointing out that we simply regarding what job providers expect from them can’t afford to lock up every offender. In order in terms of public policy. to get this message across, we have provided testimony to our legislative committees, appeared in statewide television forums and Q What political or other challenges have you encountered and how have you sought to address them? Beal: Any time you want to change the status traveled the state to share our message with A local chambers and civic clubs. We’ve offered to quo, you’re going to get resistance from those partner with our legislators to make common- who have a stake in the status quo. In addition, sense changes to our policies to ensure there is the prevailing fear of being thought to be public safety and save millions being spent on soft on crime and the notion that you’re coddling corrections. criminals. But we argue that we’re being smart on crime, not soft on crime. There is no debate A Hubert: We work as a bipartisan organization that hardened criminals should be removed from with no agenda other than to improve outcomes society. But the bulk of the population are not around public safety. Our efforts focus on finding dangerous offenders, which results in a wasteful, an area in the public safety spectrum that is dysfunctional, socially destructive system and having challenges, or is politically log jammed, it’s time to change it because it’s hurting our Right-Sizing Prisons: Business Leaders Make the Case for Corrections Reform 5 economy, our fiscal status as a state, and those going to make spending decisions even more people in the system. important in the future. We believe that the business community coming to the forefront As we addressed each of the policy reforms, to help lead the charge changes the equation we faced a number of specific hurdles, but we enough that legislators will listen. When you get made sure to create a thoughtful process that down to it, it’s all about dollars and cents. We would overcome them and lead to success. For don’t have a lot of dollars, so we have to use our example, in our rewrite of the criminal code, brains to do things in a better way if we want to some legislators perceived the rewrite as being get the correct outcomes. potentially soft on crime. But we made sure to Holcomb: The biggest challenge to date get agreement from key stakeholders such as the A prosecutors, defense attorneys, police, legislators is to convince legislators to undertake these and social workers. They worked together for politically charged issues and to really delve three years and in the end became spokespeople deeply into what fundamental change would for the reforms. look like. There are many talented policy makers A Adkisson: No one wants to be labeled working on corrections reform in Michigan and we are pleased to see some good leadership; “soft on crime,” so political leaders are naturally however, many of those not integrally involved cautious about making changes to current in the issue view it as too much of a hot potato criminal laws. In Kentucky, the business and prefer to pursue temporary band-aids community has offered to partner with instead of the radical surgery that is required for lawmakers to support them in making common- true success. sense changes. A Bishop: The biggest challenge is the fiscal One of our most effective tactics thus far is the unity with which the business community circumstances of the state of Florida and of the is speaking. When the majority of the job country as a whole. We’re going to continue providers in the state are on the same page, to see further revenue reductions, which is they are a powerful advocacy group and we have seen in this instance that progress has “We believe that the business community coming to the forefront to help lead the charge changes the equation enough that legislators will listen.” —Barney Bishop been made due to our efforts. It is no longer “if” real change will occur, but rather “when” it will happen. A Hubert: Another key challenge is when new administrations come in with new agendas and ideas. In addition, sometimes, problems are so layered and complex, like Oregon’s foster care system, that it can be overwhelming to even find a place to start. We usually try to bring all parties 6 Public Safety Performance Project | Pew Center on the States in to speak to us on a subject, hear all points improve public safety in our community for a of view, and bring opposing points of view healthier and more vibrant city. together to resolve inherent discrepancies. The bottom line is that sustaining long-term change and success can be difficult given budgetary pressures and newly elected politicians and changing agendas. Launched in 2006, The Public Safety Performance Project seeks to help states advance fiscally sound, data-driven policies and practices in sentencing and corrections At the end of the day, our biggest asset as business leaders is we don’t have a political that protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and control corrections costs. stake in the game. Our only interest is to 1 Pew Center on the States, One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections (Washington, D.C.: The Pew Charitable Trusts, March 2009). Dave Adkisson Frank H. Beal Erin Hubert n Kentucky n Illinois n Oregon President & CEO, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Chicago Metropolis 2020 Vice President and General Manager, Entercom Radio Chairman of the Board, American Chamber of Commerce Executives Board member, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest Board Chair, Citizens Crime Commission Previous Experience: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Portland Trail Blazers Previous Experience: President, Birmingham, Alabama, Chamber of Commerce President, Owensboro, Kentucky, Chamber of Commerce Mayor, Owensboro, KY Chairman, Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education Co-founder, Leadership Kentucky MORE ON LEADERS Chairman, Kentucky Center for Public Issues President and chief executive officer, Ryerson/West, a metals distribution company owned by Inland Steel Industries. Director, the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources Previous Experience: Board President, Oregon Partnership Member, Governor’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission Special assistant for energy and environmental affairs, Governor James Thompson Barney T. Bishop III James R. Holcomb n Florida n Michigan President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated Industries of Florida Vice President for Business Advocacy and Associate General Counsel, Michigan Chamber of Commerce Previous Experience: Previous Experience: Founder, The Windsor Group Executive Director, Florida Democratic Party Chief of Staff, Representative Craig DeRoche during his tenure as Speaker of the House and Minority Leader Trustee, Florida A&M University Majority Legal Counsel, Michigan House of Representatives Board of Directors, Gubernatorial Fellows Program Director of Policy, Michigan House of Representatives Right-Sizing Prisons: Business Leaders Make the Case for Corrections Reform 7 The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. www.pewcenteronthestates.org