A few issues back, we explained "Why the States Are Broke."
One possible benefit of endemic fiscal crisis is spelled out in this story that originally appeared in The New York Times:
In Washington, the first state in the country to pass a stringent "three strikes" law by popular initiative a decade ago, a bipartisan group of legislators passed several laws this year reversing some of their more punitive statutes.
One law shortened sentences for drug offenders and set up money for drug treatment. Another increased the time inmates convicted of drug and property crimes could earn to get out of prison early. Another eliminated parole supervision for low-risk inmates after their release.
Taken together, these laws "represent a real turning point," said Joseph Lehman, the secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections, who was a major supporter of the legislative changes. "You have to look at the people who are behind these laws," Mr. Lehman said. "They are not all advocates of a liberal philosophy."
Read the whole story here.