2,200 state prisoners to go free due to budget crunch

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- "Let freedom ring." That's what 2,200- state inmates have to say after the Department of Corrections announced it will open prison gates two months early for some because of budget problems.

"It's not a good idea," said Todd Gourley.

"Non-violent, let them have at it, but the violent, they need to keep them," said Chris Ballinger.

Said Justin Jones, "if they've for the most part paid their dues to society, what is another two months early?"

Non-violent and violent offenders are eligible to go free. There's cautious optimism by officials at the Hamblen County Jail, where the inmate population is over capacity, due in part to 15 inmates waiting for a state bed.

"We would have beds freed up for us to ship to DOC some of our state inmates that we have here," said Chief Deputy Wayne Mize of the Hamblen County Sheriff's Office.

A Corrections spokesperson says the plan would save about $6-million dollars. But, would public safety be at risk? DOC wouldn't answer, but issued this statement saying, "this program will reduce recidivism and increase an offenders chance for success upon release."

On one hand, the release of these inmates could free up much needed bed space for local sheriffs. But on the other, some worry this is a short term fix for a much bigger problem.

Said Mize, "very few of them are going to be able to find jobs. Consequently, they're going to go back to what they know best, which is to get in trouble and get back in jail."


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  • by Chick5 Location: Knoxville on Mar 29, 2011 at 06:20 PM
    It is a shame that we are going to allow violent criminals out (I don't care how long they have done time)early. If we would close our borders and get those out of the country that are here illegally and possibly make examples of some of these violent criminals,e.g., firing squad, hanging, lethal injection, etc., instead of babying them and taxing the taxpayer for their educations, televisions, additional trials, fighting their death penalties, etc., maybe we wouldn't have so many criminals running around. Then maybe those who find themselves in trouble will see what has happened to those before and change their wicked ways. Enough said!
  • by Timbo Location: Blaine on Mar 23, 2011 at 08:38 PM
    I can sort of agree with both Mike & Gibbons previous comments on this topic, but we must all keep in mind that lawbreakers of any sort must pay the price for their actions. What we DO need is funding to build more jail & prison facilities to house these misfits! That would be a very good thing to add to the yearly agenda of what to do with both local & federal funding that the state receives each year regarding the budget. I would suggest taking money aquired from drug busts (like the 4 million recently seized from a tractor-trailer) and property like homes, vehicles, etc. from drug busts to auction off and then funnel that money into building facilities to keep these thugs behind bars for the duration of their entire sentence! Bottom Line...we're going to need more facilities to house these thugs because it's only going to get worse!
  • by Whocares Location: Close on Mar 23, 2011 at 06:49 PM
    So little mexico now has too many inmates? I wonder why?
  • by Jack Danielson Location: Upper Room on Mar 22, 2011 at 08:47 PM
    Just in time for summer, more crooks on the streets. Sure picked a good time 2 open the flood gates Haslam.
  • by Mike Location: Fairview Tn on Mar 22, 2011 at 07:23 PM
    Stop jailing non-violent pot users or other non-violent minor drug offenders, treat it as a medical issue, and we'd have room for REAL criminals.
  • by Gibbons Location: Corryton on Mar 22, 2011 at 07:12 PM
    You politicians really have their wires crossed, shorting out in ever direction. You let prisoners out early for money when you prevent an individual with one DUI from ever getting a job in the state, keeping them from making money. That is the way - keep the good man poor so you will have a slave and let the bad go to create more work for the rich.

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