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.
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]