|Posted on September 5, 2011 at 7:50 PM||comments (1)|
It is no wonder that our country is going broke. The cost of keeping prisoners has soared to epic highs and will continue to grow. Did you know that the average cost of keeping a prisoner in a state prison is $23,876 a year? (Based on 2008 research) In the federal prisons, the cost is $25,251 a year. (Federal Register, 2011) The cost of parole is estimated to be $4,000 per year. But, for the federal system, Congress eliminated parole in 1984 with the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act for any offense that occurred after November 1, 1987. From that date, prison populations exploded, And taxpayers are paying for this, both at the state level and again at the federal level.
This is significant when you consider that, as of the last day of 2010, according to the Department of Justice's own statistics, 7,076,200 people were under the supervision of adult correctional systems in this country. That's right, 7 MILLION people! And we pay for each and every one of them. Most of them are on parole or probation, but 2,266,832 are warehoused in prisons and jails. Do the math. Then consider the additional costs of 2.3 million people who do not pay income taxes, who cannot support their families and who are unable to contribute to the national economy.
The "Get Tough on Crime" movement of the 1980's has caused the national prison population to grow at TEN TIMES the rate of growth of the population in America. However, in the same time frame the actual crime rate has gone down, not up. What has feuled this massive growth rate? For a truly shocking look at the trend in US corrections, go to an article entitled "Private Prisons: A Reliable American Growth Industry" at www.seekingalpha.com. In it, the company brags: "The fourth largest correctional system in the nation is owned and operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) - only the federal government and two states operate prison systems containing more bed space than CCA." This is how they court investors and promise continuing growth and profits.
More to come on the Mandatory Minimum sentencing policy.