Government Spending

Psst, State & Federal Gov'ts: Wanna Save About $15 Billion a Year? And Look Better Than Poland While Doing It?

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A June study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research examines the high cost of prison incarceration in the U.S., which has the highest incarceration rate of any country on earth—we have 753 people in prison per 100,000 population; the next highest country, Poland, has an incarceration rate of just 224. The study recommends that the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders, who represent 60 percent of the prison population, be reduced by half, which would lower correctional costs for state and local governments by $7.6 billion per year. The federal government could save an additional $7.2 billion annually.

Hat Tip: Bruce Bartlett blogging at Fiscal Times.

Previously at Hit & Run regarding America's sad #1 ranking in incarceration rates.

More than a decade ago, Jacob Sullum looked at the plight of non-violent drug offenders, whom many criminologists refuse to believe exist. They do, and their lives are hell because of an ineffective drug war. Read about it here.

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  1. When the revolution comes, we’ll need these facilities for the public employee pensioners. Or not. Whichever.

  2. But all those criminals will defraud little old ladies out of their social security checks! Or become bank presidents.

  3. “Jacob Sullum looked at the plight of non-violent drug offenders, whom many criminologists refuse to believe exist.”

    Preposterous. The vast majority of drug offenders are non-violent. Some “criminologists.”

    1. Typo — they were referring to *Sullum*.

  4. Why are you weak on crime*??!!

    *as defined by the state

    1. If we let the nonviolent offenders out then we will have an unemployment rate of 15% (including layoffs of the members of the prison workers’ lobby). I just won’t do that to the country I learned to love (after I got the nomination).

      1. Ane we need a growing population of prison guards to fund the prison guards’ pensions.

        1. Don’t worrry.

          We can start locking up SEIU union goons instead.

  5. non-violent drug offenders, whom many criminologists refuse to believe exist

    Well, duh. Less criminals, less criminality, less need for criminologists…

  6. The study recommends that the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders, who represent 60 percent of the prison population, be reduced by half

    I was trying to work the Amalgamated Lockem-Uppers-and-Throw-Away-the-Key-ers International into this equation, but I couldn’t; they are not “non-violent”.

    Fucking pigs.

  7. An Englishman, a Frenchman and a Polak were captured by the
    Germans and thrown into prison. However, the guard was rather kind
    towards them, and said, “I am going to lock you away for five years,
    _but_ I’ll let you have anything you want now before I lock you away.”
    The Englishman says, “I’ll have five years’ supply of beer!”
    His wish is granted, and they lock him away with his beer.
    The Frenchman says, “I’ll have five years’ supply of brandy!”
    His wish is granted, and they lock him away with his brandy.
    The Polak says, “I’ll have five years’ supply of cigarettes!”
    His wish is granted, and they lock him away with his cigarettes.
    Five years later, the Germans come to release their
    prisoners. First, they release the Englishman, who staggers out
    totally drunk. Then, they release the Frenchman, who also rolls out
    rather inebriated. Then, they release the Polak, who comes out and
    says, “Has anyone got a light?”

    1. Very good.

  8. So what about Madoff types, and other fraudsters? Are they considered non-violent in this statistic? Or white-collar crime in general? We should be careful about conflating “non-violent” and “victimless” in these discussions, methinks.

  9. Not to be me, but…

    “…the next highest country [in the OECD], Poland, has an incarceration rate of just 224.”

    The next highest on the planet is Russia with 629 per 100,000.

    1. Good to know we’re still beating the Russkies after all these years. USA! USA!

    2. Where does China fit into this? Both officially, and it’s actual numbers…

      Note that I’m not ok with us being “beaten” by China. #2 or #3 (or even #100) is still no good. There are 200 and some countries in the world, right? If we truly are the “land of the free” (ha ha) we should be decidedly near the bottom, if not _the_ bottom.

      1. Maybe we are free, but have more crime.

      2. What does enforcement of law have to do with freedom?

        All those numbers say is this country has more citizens that break the law than the rest of the world.

        We could protest until the sun burns out that our drug laws are unfair or unjust. But the fact remains that currently it is unlawful to be in possession of these substances. If you choose to ignore that fact you do so at your own peril.

  10. U S A! U S A!

    WE’RE NUMBER ONE!

    WE’RE NUMBER ONE!

    U S A! U S A!

  11. It’s for the children.

  12. http://www.nationmaster.com/gr…..per-capita

    This shows Poland at 34th, with russia being the next closest to us per capita at 584.

    Who’s numbers should I believe?

    1. Those in the original report, not misquoted by Bartlett. Poland is #2 among OECD countries, not the world. http://www.cepr.net/documents/…..010-06.pdf

      (U.S. is still number 1 in the world, however. And WAY above China: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/la…..ountry=91.)

  13. You think the Correctional Officers union, the most powerful in California and probably any number of other progressive states, would EVER let that happen? This is big business, guys and dolls. (“Guys and dolls” are not gender-specific terms in my dictionary, so no one should be offended, okay? Well, except for the trolling offense-meisters, of course…)

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