Opinion: Budget Cuts Could Be the Problem Not the Answer

Missoual+County+Pre-release+center%2C+Community+Service+program%2C+misdemeanor+Supervision+program%2C+Pre-Trial+Supervision+Program+and+Enhanced+Supervision+building.+The+proposed+budget+cuts+might+affect+the+correction+center.+
Missoual County Pre-release center, Community Service program, misdemeanor Supervision program, Pre-Trial Supervision Program and Enhanced Supervision building. The proposed budget cuts might affect the correction center.

Missoual County Pre-release center, Community Service program, misdemeanor Supervision program, Pre-Trial Supervision Program and Enhanced Supervision building. The proposed budget cuts might affect the correction center.

Missoual County Pre-release center, Community Service program, misdemeanor Supervision program, Pre-Trial Supervision Program and Enhanced Supervision building. The proposed budget cuts might affect the correction center.

Savannah Hauglum, News Editor

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Summer 2017 was not only filled with new memories but with lots of new crimes and danger to our town. A double homicide, stabbing and many others happened within the few months of sunshine with, many of us in Missoula knowing a victim or just feeling sympathy for the families.

The overall crime rate in Missoula is 69% higher than the average of crimes committed in Montana. It is also 75% higher than the national average. We have a problem with crime. The prison has been quite busy trying to figure out staffing and inmate population.

Early this year, The Montana State Prison was severely understaffed by 60 employees and overcrowded by 30+ inmates.

Now in September of 2017, budget cuts and crime are still as prevalent as it was back in the beginning of the year. Due to firefighting costs increasing and tax revenue falling short, Governor Bullock called for budget cuts to keep the state out of the red.

The severe budget cuts to corrections poses a potential threat to public safety because offenders could be let out early who are prone to re-offending.

On July 23, a double homicide in Missoula occurred. Marilyn Pickett, 15, and Jackson Wiles, 24, were found in tubs of chemicals but a investigation showed that they died from stab wounds. Their bodies were found on August 17 when police showed up to the house with a warrant in connection with a “home invasion burglary/stabbing” that occurred on July 23.

Corrections is proposing to cut several things- programs meant to reduce the prison population by helping offenders stay out of prison, reducing the number of low-risk offenders on probation (which would save $6.5 million) and payments to private correctional contactors which could violate contracts or eliminate programs for inmates in facilities.

Not only does it make for a lot of work for the staff of the prison, it doesn’t benefit the inmates, they started to get their recreation time, visitation time, etc cut back due to the shortage of staff.

Not only corrections is having to propose cuts to their budgets, but all state agencies are. $230 million in cuts is needed to keep the two year budget in balance.  These cuts will eliminate some state programs and lay off even more workers.

None of this would help the crime rates. Currently, 30,711 crimes have occurred in the last year. One index crime happens every 17 minutes, one violent crime happens every 3 hours and one property crime happens every 19 minutes in Montana.

Montana Crime rates are a lot higher than we want them to be and with budget cuts to corrections, they’re only going to continue to get higher. If their proposal does go through, we might see even higher rates of crime for our town and state. The government needs to look at which areas of state funding need more help so things like crime don’t keep going up and affecting the community.

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Opinion: Budget Cuts Could Be the Problem Not the Answer