California is under a court order to reduce its prison population by 40,000 as a consequence of corrections budge constraints and their effects on the corrections system. The Maine Legislature's mindless budget cuts — with more to come, Governor Baldacci's characteristic indifference to human abuse whether in Haiti or Warren — and the vacuum where a Corrections Commission plan for meeting the crisis promise to produce more prisoner abuse, neglect, and needless deaths — and more overburdened, demoralized, and compromised guards.

Only Lance Tapley appears to be paying attention (see "Prison Staffing Crisis Hits Perilous Level," August 7).

Is it not time for a demand to free nonviolent Maine offenders whose incarceration costs — greater than college tuition costs — only burden society and to turn from a punitive justice system that puts too many offenders in jail for too long, worsened by every demagogue politician's display of toughness on crime, to a restorative justice system that better serves both offender and society?

William H. Slavick
Portland

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