Thursday, March 01, 2007


Are you ready for this?

By 2011 the U. S. will have more than 1.7 million men and women in prison.

The cost to taxpayers will be $27.5 billion more than what is currently spent to operate the nation’s prisons.

Unless something changes, by 2011 one out of every 178 U. S. residents will be incarcerated.

Some states anticipate seeing their prison populations grow by 25% to 33%. This growth is due to stricter mandatory minimum sentencing regulations, reductions in parole rates and high recidivism.

Over the next five years, inmates will cost an additional $15 billion. Construction costs will add $12.5 billion.

Many states are questioning whether or not prisons offer the wisest use of limited public funds when they look at return on investment.

Good move, I’d say!

Far too many men and women are sent to prison in the U. S. and in Texas. Many who end up behind bars would make more progress in treatment centers where they could be guided and assisted in overcoming the addictions nesting behind their unlawful behavior.
Poor people go to prison more frequently than those who can afford the best counsel.

There are better ways to deal with the misbehavior of large numbers of people who land in prison every year than the current still popular “lock ‘em up and through away the key” approach.

One consequence (I hope "unintended," but at times I have to wonder) of our current policy is the systematic "harvesting" of male leadership from inner city neighborhoods. The resulting social impact on families and their traditions and expectations is devastating.

We need better results. Our communities deserve better and so do many inmates.

[For more details see “Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population 2007-2011,” Pew Charitable Trusts]

4 comments: said...

Having spent 10 years as Chaplaincy Program Administrator for Texas Department of Criminal Justice, I can tell you that there are better ways. But it will take Christians who care more about the Kingdom of God than the kingdoms of men to make that difference. There are thousands who want to go in to the prisons to share Christ, but only hundreds who are willing to work in the community to help them once they get out (and even fewer who work in community ministries such as CDM to keep them out). For more than 12 years we have pushed "Get Smart on Crime" and I'm glad to see some are getting the message.

Jim Young
Retired TDCJ Chaplain

Eric Livingston said...


Several churches in my area of Jackson, MS are looking to start an organization similar to CDM. We don't want to create an ecumenical food pantry. We want to be about equipping and resourcing people to better themselves and our community.

However, we are just a bunch of ministers, pastors, priests, and reverends, so we're not sure how to go about getting such a nonprofit organization off the ground.

Could you point me to some resources that might help us in creating/funding/defining goals for such an organization?

If you could email me at:
enlivingston (at) bellsouth (dot) net, I would like to email you back some more specific questions as well.

My experiences with San Antonio's Urban Connection and from what I've read and heard about CDM, I know that your organization is very effective in making communal differences. We'd like to emulate some of that.

Any help is appreciated.

Eric Livingston

KentF said...

What percentage of those folks are there almost entirely because they're hooked on drugs? Sorry to be so blunt, but the biggest joke in the U.S. is the "War on Drugs". There's got to be a better way.

Larry James said...

KentF, a large % are locked up due to offenses related to their addictions. States that focus on treatment instead of incarceration save millions of dollars and achieve much, much better outcomes with people.