Tent cities: Not just for homeless anymore!

The threat of budget crunches is producing some novel ideas for combating jail overcrowding in Florida, including housing inmates in tents.

Statistics released last week show Florida’s prison population is continuing to grow. Last year, Florida’s prisons took in more new inmates than any other state. Some corrections officials estimate the state will need 19 more prisons by 2013.

So, perhaps to stave off building expensive prisons, state officials are looking at tents.

It’s hardly a novel idea.

In Arizona, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office set up tent cities several years ago. Sheriff Joe Arpaio instituted the tent cities for Phoenix area inmates after his election in 1992 as a money-saving measure. But over the years, less tangible costs have started to pour through like the holes in said tents: lawsuits, two riots, federal probes and condemnations from such organizations as Amnesty International.

According to news reports, state officials have bought 36 of the tents, which cost about $9,000 and house up to 22 prisoners.

But what’s not talked about — except by Howard Troxler — is looking into ways to cut the recidivism rate, which could save Florida taxpayers the most money over the long term.

(Photo Credit: j2dread/Flickr)

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