Why Serving a Maximum Prison Sentence is a Bad Thing

Jun 4, 2014

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  -- It may sound like a positive development that the number of inmates in Tennessee prisons serving their full sentences is on the rise, but a new study by the Pew Charitable Trust suggests just the opposite.

The Pew Trust’s Adam Gelb says about 1 in 3 Tennessee prisoners serves every day of their sentence behind bars.

“Having so many inmates serve out to the very end of their prison terms behind the walls and then go from a cell to the street without any supervision, accountability, or support is missing an opportunity to reduce crime, to reduce recidivism, and to save taxpayers’ dollars.”

Gelb says that research suggests post-incarceration offender supervision reduces crime by about 30 percent.

“About a six month period of supervision at least for offenders following their release from prison and then to make sure that that supervision is good supervision.”

Gelb says that for 40 years prisons have been what he refers to as “the weapon of choice” in the nation’s war on crime. The result is that about 1 American in 100 is now serving time at tremendous cost to the taxpayer.

He notes that Tennessee neighbors Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama have all taken recent steps to ratchet back the growth of their prison populations.