All Articles Tagged "budget deficits"
(New York Times) — Before he went to jail, Danny Ivey had barely seen a backyard garden. But here he was, two years left on his sentence for grand theft, bent over in a field, snapping wide, green collard leaves from their stems. For the rest of the week, Mr. Ivey and his fellow inmates would be eating the greens he picked, and the State of Florida would be saving most of the $2.29 a day it allots for their meals.
Prison labor — making license plates, picking up litter — is nothing new, and nearly all states have such programs. But these days, officials are expanding the practice to combat cuts in federal financing and dwindling tax revenue, using prisoners to paint vehicles, clean courthouses, sweep campsites and perform many other services done before the recession by private contractors or government employees.
In New Jersey, inmates on roadkill patrol clean deer carcasses from highways. Georgia inmates tend municipal graveyards. In Ohio, they paint their own cells. In California, prison officials hope to expand existing programs, including one in which wet-suit-clad inmates repair leaky public water tanks. There are no figures on how many prisoners have been enrolled in new or expanded programs nationwide, but experts in criminal justice have taken note of the increase.
(New York Times) — Unlike many of her fellow governors, Jan Brewer of Arizona knows well the inner workings of her state’s mental health system: her son has schizophrenia and was committed to a state hospital more than 20 years ago after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of sexual assault and kidnapping. Although she rarely speaks of her son’s crisis, Ms. Brewer has long been an advocate for the mental health system, pushing for state money for drugs and community programs. But with Arizona and other states across the country facing huge budget holes, Ms. Brewer and many of her fellow governors in both parties are presiding over what is being described as a dismantling of the safety net for the mentally ill.
(Huffington Post) — Whenever governments cut spending, the pain is uneven. But African Americans are especially vulnerable, as a disproportionately high number rely on government dollars for crucial services, a new study has found. As black people are more dependant than white people on public safety nets, and are more likely to be on public payrolls, governmental austerity could wound the black community especially severely. In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Depression, local, state and federal governments have contended with often massive budget deficits. As officials cut spending to compensate for diminished revenue, society’s most vulnerable members are losing essential services.