Thursday, June 10, 2010

Probation, parole for nonviolent crime could save states billions of dollars

The United States currently incarcerates a higher share of its population than any other country in the world. We calculate that a reduction in incarceration rates just to the level we had in 1993 (which was already high by historical standards) would lower correctional expenditures by $16.9 billion per year, with the large majority of these savings accruing to financially squeezed state and local governments. As a group, state governments could save $7.6 billion, while local governments could save $7.2 billion.

These cost savings could be realized through a reduction by one-half in the incarceration rate of exclusively non-violent offenders, who now make up over 60 percent of the prison and jail population.

A review of the extensive research on incarceration and crime suggests that these savings could be achieved without any appreciable deterioration in public safety.

Read the report

The threats to our society from binging on mass incarceration are well documented. The bottom line is that the U.S. is spending billions of dollars building the prison-industrial complex and society is the poorer (in more ways than one) for it. And it is too bad that states like Idaho are guided by ideology rather than rationality - the prison population continues to grow while the budgets continue to shrink, thus ensuring more future failures.

No comments: