WASHINGTON (AP) — The NAACP is joining Newt Gingrich in calling for a reduction in the number of state and federal prisoners and spending the savings on education.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a report on Thursday that said between 1987 and 2007, state prison spending grew at six times the rate of higher education spending. It recommends examining policies in states that have reduced their prison populations.

“For 30 years we’ve been practicing failed crime policies that don’t make us safer, in fact they make us less safe and cost billions of taxpayer dollars,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“It’s time to get smart on crime and stop pretending we’re tough on crime,” Jealous said. “Smart on crime is policy based on what works. Tough on crime is about good PR, like responding to drug offenses with mass incarceration. Smart is rehabilitation.”

Gingrich, a potential Republican presidential candidate, noted that $68 billion was spent on incarceration last year in the United States, even though some states have reduced their costs with alternative programs.

“It is time to fundamentally rethink how we treat and rehabilitate our prisoners,” he said in a statement.

Others backing the report include Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Rod Paige, who was Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush; and Mike Jimenez, an executive board member for the prison guard group Corrections USA.

Norquist said his group got involved because when it comes to making the argument for reducing the number of prisoners, “liberals can’t do it. People say, ‘You just want to let all the murderers out.'”

“But we are spending a great deal of money keeping people in prison, and for many of them it doesn’t make sense to keep them there year after year,” Norquist said. “Some do better with things like home confinement, probation, ankle bracelets, rehabilitation, all of which are much less expensive. We can do this in a serious way and still keep the crime rate down.”

The report’s recommendations include: a commission to study and recommend reforms; eliminating sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine; freeing prisoners earlier if they participate in educational, vocational, drug and mental health programs; eliminating mandatory minimum drug sentences; and diverting drug offenders to treatment.

Norquist said his group thought any prison savings should be returned to taxpayers, not spent on education.

“The NAACP wants to spend that money in some places that we don’t,” he said. “We can argue about that, but first let’s save the money.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (6)
  1. sheriffwillie says:

    Gingrich has absolutely no credibility. He is a proven liar & a cheater. He was impeached from the house speakers post except the a….hole resigned in disgrace.

  2. poorhouse MD says:

    What happened to the lottery and casino money???? Thought the millions they raised were supposed to go towards education in MD. More lies from our “trust worthy” people in office. Maybe with all the money the government saves from not paying 800,000 workers for a day or more could help them out or maybe we could put that money towrd the ILLEGAL immigrants college tuition. The taxpayers of MD are always happy to lose more of their pay while everything else is going up. , Gas, heating oil, groceries, co-pays, health insurance, interest rates, BGE, COMCAST, verizon, tolls. Thanks!!!

  3. Bernard Mc Kernan says:

    Poorhouse, What does your rant have to do with Prison reform & Newt the liar? I think you have your threads mixed up.

    1. poorhouse MD says:

      Shouldn’t be a need to reform fed and state prisoners to fund education lottery and taxes should do that??? Rants might as well cover the top news stories of the week.

  4. Cathy says:

    Instead of trying to reform the blacks that are put in jail,put them all down,they seem to do the same crime any way when they get out,and all our tax money is spent for educating them and feeding them,send them over to libya to fu=ight the war instead od our soldiers

  5. JOJO DANCER says:

    Another racist rant.

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