across the country are debating plans to reverse decades of tough-on-crime
policies by granting early release to criminals as a way for cash-strapped
states to try to close budget gaps.
From California to Kentucky, officials
are considering releasing tens of thousands of convicts, particularly
those convicted of minor drug offenses, who would be better served by
treatment, parole or early release for good behavior.
Officials acknowledge that the idea
carries risks, but say they have no choice because of huge budget gaps
brought on by the slumping economy.
"If we don't find a way to better
manage the population at the state prison, we will be forced to spend
money to expand the state's prison system - money we don't have,"
said Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri.
At least eight states are considering
freeing inmates or sending some to rehabilitation programs instead of
prison. If adopted, the early release
programs could save an estimated $450
million in California and Kentucky alone. Kentucky spends more than
$18,600 to house one inmate for a year, or roughly $51 a day. In
California, each inmate costs an average of $46,104 to incarcerate.
"It's the fiscal stuff that's
driving it," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing
Project, a Washington-based group that advocates for more lenient
sentencing. "Do you want to build prisons or do you want to build
colleges? If you're a governor, it's kind of come to that choice right
A Rhode Island proposal would allow
inmates to deduct up to 12 days from their sentence for every month they
follow rules and work in prison. A plan in Mississippi would offer early
parole for people convicted of selling marijuana or prescription drugs.
New Jersey, South Carolina and Vermont are considering funneling
drug-addicted offenders into treatment, which is cheaper than prison.
In California, where lawmakers have taken
steps to cut a $16 billion budget deficit in half by summer, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger proposed saving $400 million by releasing more than 22,000
inmates who had less than 20 months remaining on their sentences. Violent
and sex offenders would not be eligible
Proposals to free prisoners are still met
with opposition, particularly from law enforcement officials who fear that
a flood of released felons could
return to their communities, and from
victims groups that worry that justice is being sacrificed for budgetary
But prisons "are one of the most
expensive parts of the criminal-justice system," said Alison
Lawrence, who studies corrections policy for the
National Conference of State
Legislatures. "That's where they look to first to cut down some of
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research by Nature has revealed that many of the world's top
engineers and scientists are routinely taking psychoactive drugs to boost
their brain power.
An informal search by the leading
research publication has uncovered an epidemic of drug use in scientific
circles. One in five respondents to the survey reported they had
used cognition-enhancing prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.
Specifically, ADHD (Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder) drug Ritalin, sleep medication Provigil, and beta
blocking heart drugs are all resportedly guzzled to improve focus,
concentration, and memeory. More than one third had obtained their
fix from an internet pharmacy., All but one of the 14 British
scientists who responded ordered online.
The enhanced eggheads reported side
effects including sleeplessness, jitteriness, anxiety, and headaches
But the poll also revealed that most
boffins have no problem with their competitors obtaining a competitive
advantage. Four in five said healthy adults should be allowed to
turbo charge their own brain if they want to.
Affectionately, dubbed "cosmetic
neurology", this type of enhancement is nothing new. What is
very recent is the phenomenal acceptance this now has across Europe and
throughout Asia-PAC. The trend for the next decade is likely to show
a much more permissive attitude towards drugs. This is
something that the US is unprepared to handle.
2005, Terry Jernigan, UCSD, led a study, Effects
of Methamphetamine Dependence and HIV Infection on Cerebral Morphology,
in which MRI studies of HIV subjects who use methamphetamine were
explored. This was one of the first studies that was allowed under a
government program to reveal the truth about how methamphetamine effects
of the effect of age, HIV infection
was associated with reduced volumes of cortical, limbic, and striatal
structures. There was also some evidence of
an interaction between age and HIV infection such that older HIV-positive
dependence was surprisingly associated with basal ganglia and parietal
cortex volume increases, and in
of these structures—the nucleus accumbens—
appeared to be a larger
in younger methamphetamine
Neurocognitive impairment was associated
with decreased cortical volumes in
HIV-positive participants but with increased cortical volumes in
the Jernigan study, there have been similar research studies which show
that low-dose administration of methamphetamine had a positive impact on
the brain. At excessively high doses, there was evidence of change
to the frontal cortex region of the brain.
studies suggests that low doses of methamphetamine have a pronounced
positive effect on the brain, while at higher doses, there were signs of
frontal lobe deterioration. It has not been specified whether this
deterioration might be due to chemical impurities found in street meth
(crystal methamphetamine). It is obvious that more research is