LWVSC supports improvements in function and oversight of the Department of Corrections to include attention to the offender’s responsibility to the community and his/her return to the community. These policies should include:
1. Court commitment policies that encourage utilization of alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.
2. Efforts to reduce the anticipated prison population through the utilization of various and equitable alternatives to incarceration, which include: Pre-trial intervention (PTI) programs; Pre-sentence investigations (PSI); Youthful Offender Act provisions; shock incarceration; day treatment programs; community treatment programs for drug and alcohol offenders; weekend/overnight/home detention; residential and nonresidential restitution programs.
3. The diversion of mentally handicapped and mentally ill persons to community treatment service.
4. Full funding for rehabilitation, re-entry, pre-release and work release programs that facilitate the inmate’s re-entry into the community as a productive citizen.
5. Prison industry programs that enable inmates to contribute to or support the costs of their incarceration and prepare them for post-prison employment.
6. Access to education and giving credit for successful completion of academic, vocational, or technical education courses toward reducing an inmate’s term of incarceration.
7. The inclusion of successful completion of academic, vocational, or technical education courses to be credited toward the reduction of an inmate’s term of incarceration.
8. A requirement that state human service agencies incorporate services to the inmate population and their families in their agency plans.
9. A mandatory cost-impact review for any legislation that would affect the inmate population.
10. The construction of regionally-sited correctional facilities and improvement of existing facilities as needed to relieve overcrowding and to adequately house increases in the prison population. Inmate labor should be used, provided that appropriate training is given to the inmates; that the inmates are paid a suitable wage for their labor, and that those involved are required to contribute a portion of their wages to their own maintenance costs, to support their families, and to pay restitution as required.
11. Decriminalization of victimless crimes as a means of reducing the prison population.
12. Illegal drug use should be considered a public health issue. Drug use and addiction should be addressed by substance abuse treatment and education programs instead of incarceration.
13. Frequent and thorough oversight and evaluation of staff, programs, and facilities, both public and private.
Related LWVUS position: Meeting Basic Human Needs
- Adopted in 1979, the list of ways to reduce the prison population was expanded in 1992.
- The list of positions was reprioritized at the direction of the 1997 convention.
- In 1999, the title of this position was changed from “Correction” to Criminal Justice” as more appropriate for its content.
- Item #10 under Adult Offenders was adopted by concurrence at the 2011 State League Convention, based on a study of illegal drug use by the Charleston League.
- In 2015 Criminal and Juvenile Justice were separated and in 2019 Juvenile Justice joined Child Welfare under the umbrella position of Protection of Children’s Rights.