View Full Version : Barbour vows to save money by streamlining prison system

06-17-2004, 04:21 PM

BILOXI - It's unacceptable for police to risk their lives putting criminals behind bars only to see them turned loose through the revolving doors of the state prison, Gov. Haley Barbour said here Wednesday night.

His comments drew a round of applause at the Imperial Palace convention center, where more than 100 police and several state officials gathered for the 50th annual conference of the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers' Association.

"The so-called first offenders are out there with rap sheets as long as my arm before they ever get tried," Barbour said. "That's not acceptable to me, and you deserve better than that."

His address to the association included praise for state lawmakers' efforts to save the state more money in this year than in any previous four-year period.

Budget cuts include $41 million in the state Department of Corrections, "even though the number of prisoners is increasing," he said.

"We're going to save money by running the prison system like a business, incarcerating criminals at the lowest cost."

Tightened laws on income taxes also will help put more criminals behind bars, the governor said.

"Al Capone was one of the biggest gangsters in the '30s and he never got convicted of anything except income tax evasion," he said.

Barbour also praised law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders for taking on additional responsibilities through homeland defense efforts.

"These are things we never foresaw," he said.

After his speech, Barbour told The Sun Herald the savings in prison costs will come, in part, by housing more state prisoners in county-owned regional jails and private prisons, and shifting some of the staff from state prisons.

"At Parchman, we've got five units built in the 1970s that are so old, they're our most expensive places to keep prisoners," he said.

Source: Biloxi Sun Herald online edition