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Task Force Looks at Reducing Oregon Prison Costs

July 23, 2007

Oregon's prison costs are growing faster than any other state in the nation according to Bureau of Justice Statistics - up 20 percent this year alone. Seeking to address the problem, Oregon lawmakers doubled the funding for programs proven to keep people from re-offending. Representative Chip Shields says that's a strategy the new Public Safety Strategies Task Force will be examining more closely.

"It will take a look at whether or not we have the right investments in prevention, in treatment, in troopers. Do we have the right investment in Head Start-to make sure that we're preventing crime and keeping it from happening again and again?"

Shields believes that without programs to help offenders get an education and be better prepared to re-enter society, they just wind up back in prison, costing taxpayers millions. The Task Force is expected to be named shortly.

He also wants the taskforce to find more ways to keep the public safe while reducing costs.

"We're now spending more on our youth and adult prison system than we are on community colleges and higher education."

The bill creating the task force is HB 3563.

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR