Monthly Archives: July 2016

Incarcerations – what is it costing

22b) Incarcerations – what is it costing


By Christian Henrichson and Ruth Delaney

Staff from Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections and Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit developed a methodology to calculate the taxpayer cost of prisons, including costs outside states’ corrections budgets. Among the 40 states that participated in a survey, the cost of prisons was $39 billion in fiscal year 2010, $5.4 billion more than what their corrections budgets reflected. States’ costs outside their corrections departments ranged from less than 1 percent of total prison costs in Arizona to as much as 34 percent in Connecticut. The full report provides the taxpayer cost of incarcerating a sentenced adult offender to state prison in 40 states, presents the methodology, and concludes with recommendations about steps policy makers can take to safely rein in these costs. Fact sheets provide details about each of the states that participated in Vera’s survey.”

Extrapolating the above for all 50 states would the overall cost 5 years ago at just under $50,000,000,000!  How do you feel about that tax payer invoice?

Exactly why do we have so many inmates?

““Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law-enforcement reason.” The person who said that was neither a defense lawyer, nor a prisoners’-rights advocate, nor a European looking down his nose across the Atlantic. It was instead America’s top law-enforcement official, Eric Holder, the attorney general. On Monday Mr Holder announced several changes to federal prison policy, the most important of which was that federal prosecutors will no longer charge low-level, non-violent drug offenders with crimes that trigger “draconian” mandatory-minimum sentences. But how did America’s prison population become so unmanageably huge?                                                                                      Probably the biggest driver of this growth has been ever-harsher drug penalties. In response to the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Congress and state legislatures began passing laws that meted out mandatory-minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. These were intended to help nab major traffickers, but the sentences were triggered by the possession of tiny quantities of drugs: five grams of crack, for instance, resulted in a mandatory-minimum sentence of five years. Conspiracy laws made everyone involved in a drug-running operation legally liable for all of the operation’s activities: a child hired for a few dollars a day to act as a lookout at the door of a crack house was on the hook for all the drugs sold in that house and all the crimes associated with their sale. These sorts of laws kept America’s prison population growing even as its crime rate declined.”

” Federal: “Between 2001 and 2013, more than half of prisoners serving sentences of more than a year in federal facilities were convicted of drug offenses. On September 30, 2013 (the end of the most recent fiscal year for which federal offense data were available), 98,200 inmates (51% of the federal prison population) were imprisoned for possession, trafficking, or other drug crimes.”

The rates are even higher for sentences under a year. To make matters worse the rate of recidivism is much higher for drug offenders. It’s the proverbial “revolving door”. We kick these inmates to the curb when they are released with a cheap pre-paid cell phone and $100 and expect them to reenter society as a productive tax payer. Obviously this is not working!

stay tuned next week on more on this

Incarcerations, prisons, the tax payer rip-off & a low cost alternative

Chapter 22
Incarcerations, prisons, the tax payer rip-off & a low cost alternative
22a) Incarcerations
We seem to have a culture in this country regarding incarceration that is at odds with the rest of the civilized world and the tax payer is the real victim.
I would not argue that we are too tough of serious crimes. In fact I would argue just the opposite. My opinion is that we are too soft on serious crimes like murder, rape, child abuse, sex offenders, armed robbery, etc.
Let’s take a look at a few facts: The U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate of any of the 1st world countries at 707 per 100,000 and this does not include juvenile stats. When they are added it means that we incarcerate just under 1% of our population! As a comparison take a look at some others.
England 148 Belgium 108 Canada 118 France 103 Iceland 47 Japan 51 Germany 78 Italy 100 Greece 120 Switzerland 87 Netherlands 82 New Zealand 183 Sweden 60 Australia 143 Austria 98 Norway 72
The bottom line is that while the U.S. has only has 4.4% of the world’s population we pay to incarcerate almost 25% of the total world’s inmates!
Based on the above you might think the U.S. is, as a result, a much safer place to reside and of course you would be wrong. Again, our country does not even make the top 10! Any idea which country heads the list? Would you believe the country with the lowest incarceration rate? Yep, it is Iceland!
1 # which is the safest country in the world 2015 – Iceland

Source for above:

Ok, what do you suspect is the problem here? In a recent community meeting we were addressed by a retired prison warden. He indicated that the issue is not with the folks running the prisons as most of them understand the problem and the solutions. He indicated that it really is a political issue where it is popular, as a politician, to appear to be “tough” on crime. It is a tried a true formula for electability. Thus, the system of laws and policies are the real culprit. Any attempt to modify them by a representative might well paint that person as “weak” on crime. This presenter’s statement is that we need to stop incarcerating folks that we are “mad” at and focus and those that we are afraid of (please pardon the dangling participles!)

stay tuned next week on more on this

Life Skills – (con’t)

21d) Life Skills – (con’t)

What should be a requirement for a high school Curriculum, in my opinion, are subjects that prepare the young adult with the skills necessary to lead a successful and productive life.

What would these be? I would start with a life skills course that address banking, budgeting, marketing, credit, loans, nutrition, exercise, parenting & interview skills. As a starter course only the basics could be addressed, but at least this would be more than we have now.

Additionally I could envision at least six (6) individual semester long courses as follows:

Financial Skill Set

Money management budgeting and savings, balancing a checkbook/checking account, improving/fixing credit issues & scores, practical money management/skills, credit card management, basic bookkeeping, simple (and free) accounting software, Internet Banking & taxes & tax preparation.

Employability Skills

Resume formats and content, filling out a job application, interviewing skills, dress & appearance, behavior & attitude, understanding employer expectations, drug testing, payroll items (social security and Medicare taxes) educational requirements and experience.

 Parenting & Relationships

Healthy Relationships, Family relationships, marital/romantic relationships, friends/co-worker relationships,

communication skills, mentoring/role models, sex & financial issues, understanding basic child development, methods of disciplining children and how substance abuse affects parenting skills.

Nutritional Skills

Nutrition and cooking, 0utline of a balanced diet, how to read and understand food labels, how unhealthy foods affect the body, meal planning, food shopping/creating a grocery list, carbohydrate restriction (the good and the bad), EBT and eating healthy but economically.

Quality of Life Skill Set

Stress and anger management, relaxation techniques, coping skills, involvement in leisure activities, time management, success principles, immune system maintenance and the value of daily exercise.

Accommodation & Transportation Skills

Apartment hunting, managing, finances and paying bills, utilities & deposits, property purchases vs renting, up-front costs, property maintenance, insurance (renters/home/auto), property taxes and auto leasing vs. ownership.