Sunday, January 8, 2012

State of the State Preview Part 7: The Former Prisoner

Posted By on Sun, Jan 8, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Warren Bussey looks at Idaho through many different prisms, having had unique experiences that allow him to see the strengths and challenges of many of the state's programs and divisions in different ways. Bussey has been a manager in the food service and construction industries. He has lived in transitional housing. He currently oversees At Its Best Florist, a flower delivery service in Boise. Bussey fits a fairly common demographic: a middle-aged white male taxpayer. But he also had another unique experience—having served a prison sentence at the Idaho Department of Correction after being convicted of embezzlement.

Like many Idahoans, Bussey looks to the 2012 Idaho Legislature to make smart budget choices, specifically when it comes to two of the largest pieces of Idaho's financial pie: education and correction.

"Lack of education is why our prisons are so over-crowded," said Bussey. "If legislators made the Department of Correction more efficient, such that less time and money was spent keeping people incarcerated, maybe there would be more resources left over for improvement of education. Right now, we spend millions on extended sentences, when many of these people would benefit from counseling and other treatments that would prepare them for earlier release."

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