Nevada faces budget problems and the answers being touted by conservatives aim only to serve a self-defeating purpose for our state. As social services are being cut under Republican policy decisions, we have been and will be seeing a rise in overall costs to our state budget and growth in our prison populations.
Over the past 30-40 years, the U.S. has actually seen a decrease in crime, particularly with violent crimes. Yet the populations of our prisons have skyrocketed. The percentage of Americans in the prison system has much more than doubled since 1985.
Evidence shows a link between incarceration rates and conservative policy. The CATO institute’s rating of “economic freedom” (a/k/a conservative tax and deregulation policies) shows a correlation with the spike in prison populations.
Incarceration rates are higher in states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors. Congressional policy making by Republicans in 1994 creating stricter mandatory minimum sentences has left the United States as the nation with the highest percentage of its population in prison in the entire world.
The war on drugs and the assault on the 4th amendment by conservatives (who is really attacking our constitution?) have played a large role in this. This explains how it is possible that a decrease in crime correlates with an increase in prison population. That is counter-intuitive. Essentially, people are being punished more for less, bottom line.
Mental Health patients in Nevada can look forward to being put in prison as these programs to house them are cut because we here in Nevada are not willing to institute an adequate revenue structure for our state’s services. In essence, we are cheap.
These “business friendly” policies of low taxes have backfired on Nevada. Our education system is suffering; we have one of the highest crime rates in the country, and the costs of maintaining our prison system is growing by the day. It’s getting problematic because we have the lowest guard to inmate rate in the nation.
Businesses don’t want to move to a state like that. We need to be people friendly to be business friendly. Conservative policy makers will need to step out of the ideological box and into the reality of what actually makes a business friendly environment.
With a poor education system and high drop-out rate, we can expect more costs related to crime and prisons in this state. We spend the money now, or we can spend even more later.
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Justin is also an associate at the Ramirez Group in Las Vegas. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee