Better Choices New Mexico: Way 6 Cuts to Corrections

Posted on February 17, 2011



The Cut: Governor Martinez has proposed an overall cut of $1.6 million for the state Department of Corrections. Past cuts have already meant serious staff shortages and the elimination of effective prevention programs.

The Consequences: The Corrections Department has a high turn-over rate. Last year’s hiring freeze has meant that essential job functions are not being performed. One such vacancy at the state penitentiary is the officer at the traffic post, which is a facility’s first line of defense. It helps minimize the  amount of contraband that is brought into a secure facility.

Earlier this year, a prevention program called Impact was eliminated to save Corrections just $450,000. Nearly half of all people who serve time in prison end up back behind bars, but just 6 percent of Impact participants reoffend, according to PB&J-the nonprofit group that ran the program.

Impact helped prepare prisoners for life on the “outside,” and helped them find job and places to live. What’s more, the program worked with the children f inmates, who are at a much higher risk of getting into trouble with the law than children whose parents have not been incarcerated. As one Impact graduate told a local newspaper, “they fill that void, that gap, of support you don’t have when you get out.”

Staff shortages at corrections facilities compromise safety and increase turn-over rates. These both end up costing more money in the long-term, as does the elimination of successful prevention programs such as Impact. Small short-term savings simply aren’t worth it.


Posted in: Local News