More Than Money Is Needed To Solve Problems Faced by State and Local Corrections Agencies

GGD-81-104: Published: Sep 23, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1981.

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State and local departments of corrections are faced with enormous problems as a result of the public demand for stricter enforcement and longer terms of incarceration. In recent years, State and local governments have provided additional funds to police, prosecutors, and the courts to get criminals off the streets. Laws have been enacted calling for mandatory and extended periods of incarceration. However, departments of corrections have been virtually ignored. In many States, correctional institutions are experiencing severe overcrowding, the services provided are marginal, and the facilities are often dilapidated and deteriorating. Federal courts have ruled that housing inmates in this type of environment can be a violation of constitutional amendments banning cruel and unusual punishment. Alternative programs are also being taxed to the limit and, because of inadequate correctional facilities, individuals are being placed in alternative programs where they do not belong to the detriment of public safety. GAO conducted a study that calls for the public, the legislature, and other components of the criminal justice system to become involved in helping to solve correctional problems. It concludes with a look at what the Federal role might be in assisting States to develop a systemwide approach to dealing with such problems.

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