Raimondo Unveils Working Group to Reform RI Criminal Justice System
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
"We've made some important criminal justice reforms over the last decade, but urgent work remains. If we want to keep families and communities safe and give every Rhode Islander the chance to lead a productive life, and if we want to invest taxpayers' dollars more efficiently and effectively, we have to institute real reforms," said Raimondo.
The stated goals of the group are "ensuring limited resources are focused on the most serious crimes, reducing recidivism and analyzing racial disparities; and improving treatment of mental illness and substance abuse."
Former State Representative Ray Rickman, a current Parole Board member, praised the move by state leaders.
"Around 1970, we created a law and order attitude, thinking that the more people you put in jail, the better off we'll be -- and it doesn't work. It's basically 1 out of 100 who are in prisons in this county. Other than Stalin's gulags, this is the largest prison population in history," said Rickman.
"What is needed is drug rehab, assistance dealing with alcoholism, those are the top things. All prison does is give you a break. Then when you're out, you have a record, and you're in worst shape than ever, and you're back on the same street corner," said Rickman. "We are destroying our communities with this jail stuff - we're destroying the person, they have families. We have thousands who are unemployed. I think think this is a brave step for the Governor and Speaker to have taken, and they are to be praised."
"The projected growth in Rhode Island's prison population is not predetermined. By looking at strategies that are working across the country, analyzing the reasons for the projected growth, and engaging stakeholders from across the system, state leaders can build on the 2008 reforms and continue to reduce both crime and recidivism," said Adam Gelb, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' public safety performance project.
The group is co-chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell and retired Superior Court Associate Justice Judith Colenback Savage.
The group will review findings presented by the CSG Justice Center and then develop police options for the Rhode Island General Assembly's consideration next year.
Related Slideshow: Cost Per Prisoner in Rhode Island FY2014
The Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) is comprised of 7 inmate facilities (5 male, 2 female), which are all located within 1 square mile in Cranston, RI. The State of Rhode Island operates a unified correctional system, meaning that all offenders (i.e., those awaiting trial, sentenced, and under community supervision) in the state are under the jurisdiction of RIDOC.
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