Unless you have been out in the backcountry for the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably heard by now that the Montana GOP is once again making Montana somewhat of a laughing stock because they have kept hold of their 1850s belief that it should be illegal to be a lesbian or gay.
Funny thing is, not one of these so-called “fiscal conservatives” appear to have bothered to determine the cost of this nonsense.
MCA 45-5-505, the deviant sexual conduct code, was ruled unconstitutional in 1997 by the MT Supreme Court – and in 2003 by the US Supreme Court. The law, which is still on the books despite multiple attempts at removal both before and after the court rulings, calls for up to 10 years in prison and/or $50,000 in fines.
Montana’s current criminal populations costs us taxpayers approximately $1,700 every single day. If we were to imprison Montana’s gay and lesbian population, the costs would be millions each year (and a complete and total waste of money.) I’m not even counting enforcement and court costs. Only incarceration. The US Department of Justice says the average annual operating cost per state inmate in 2001 was $22,650, or $62.05 per day (it’s probably more now but this will give us a conservative estimate. That means that if you figure that an estimated 10% of Montana’s 975,000 people are turned into incarcerated criminals, the annual cost to you and me and the rest of Montana’s taxpayers is more than $220 million dollars annually.
Those idiots can say what they will, but they can’t say that they are the party of fiscal conservatism and common sense when none of them cares enough about saving money to bother taking stupidity like this out of their platform.
There are real and disastrous consequences associated with supporting recriminalization for so many reasons. The Dems’ excellent leadership in the legislature and Governor’s office on smart budgeting is one more reason why some smart legislator should call out the MT GOP’s hypocrisy. One easy way to do this would be to request an exact fiscal analysis from the Legislative Fiscal Division and show it to a reporter. Given the fact that state budget deficits have been in the national spotlight recently, said legislator might even find herself talking about this in the national media.