PolicyBlog has moved!

Thank you for visiting, PolicyBlog has a new address.

Our new location is http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog

Please adjust your bookmarks. Archived posts will remain here for now.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Problem of PA Prison Population and Price

Last week Bill Cosby declared that it only costs taxpayers $4,000 a year to educate a child, but $33,000 a year to incarcerate someone (this statement is inaccurate, unless referring to Pennsylvania higher education subsidies per college student). Cosby also says that public education is more likely to keep children out of prison. However, the number of inmates in Pennsylvania prisons has increased by 40 percent in nine years,
according to a Tribune-Review story despite increased "investment" in education.

So while we are spending more on education Pennsylvania taxpayers are also upping the ante for state prisons - spending $1.66 billion dollars. Every additional dollar that is being spent on incarceration does not reduce recidivism rates and or stem the growth in incarceration.

There are however, alternatives to ever increasing expenditures on prison. Texas experimented with a number of reforms to reduce prison spending while protecting public safety. Alternatives to prison include probation, drug courts, and electronic monitoring. In fact, a Florida study found offenders were 89 to 95 percent less likely to be revoked to prison if they were monitored.


Anonymous said...

Two words:

Legalize it.

And two more:

Tax it.

Now we've turned an expense into a revenue stream.

Gordon Davis Jr said...

A large segment of the PA prison population is made up of drug offenders. The increase in PA prison population in this century is dominated by drug offenders. Controlled substance abuse continues unabated. We have lost the war on drugs, yet we persist. Prohibition is as big a failure today as it was in the 1920s, yet we continue to incarcerate drug dealers and users. The old adage is true: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result truly is insanity. The fact is that prohibition has the exact opposite effect as intended. It keeps drug prices artificially high insuring a vibrant enterprise. Stop prosecuting drug offenders, release them from prison and the overcrowding problem will disappear. The current situation is an absurdity we can no longer afford.