Prison population growing, budget shrinking - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Prison population growing, budget shrinking

June 10, 2003

Lee County -- Georgia has led the nation in prison population growth for three of the past four years. And as our prison population grows, the money to run the prisons shrinks. So what will the state do to handle inmate growth?

Lee State Prison near Leesburg has grown from a 500 prisoner facility when built 20 years ago, to house 714 inmates today. That is 6 below their capacity. The state's prison system budget for 2004 is expected by the end of the month, and Warden Kevin Roberts is concerned.

Roberts said "We waiting in anticipation of the upcoming budget , with the realization that there will be some cutbacks."

 Lee State Prison is not overcrowded, but the state's prison population is expected to grow by another one thousand inmates this year. Meanwhile their budget has been cut 41 million dollars from last year. Roberts says the prison system has been preparing for the cuts, but wants to make sure finances do not lead to safety concerns for the inmates, guards, or finally the public.

Roberts said "That's our mission, and what we take most seriously. That we provide protection for the public and safety and staff in the facilities. We anticipate being able to continue to fulfill that mission."

Lee State prison inmates help raise their own food and do most of their own maintenance on the prison and their fleet of vehicles. More budget cutbacks worry prison officials, but they say they will maintain safety , no matter what the cost.

 There are 47-thousand inmates in state prisons. The 2004 prison budget is 916 million dollars.

posted at 4:40 by jimw@walb.com

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