Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Costs of crime are far more great than the costs of incarceration

Great column by Thomas Sowell analyzing the costs of crime versus the cost of incarceration. It's not only crime rates that go down when more criminals are put behind bars. Some excerpts - A study in Britain found that the total cost of the prison system per year was 1.9 billion pounds sterling, while the financial cost alone of the crimes committed per year by criminals was estimated at 60 billion pounds sterling.

Politicians and ideologues of the Left are forever pushing “alternatives to incarceration.” These include programs with lovely names like “community supervision” and high-tech stuff like electronic devices to keep track of released criminals’ locations.

Electronic devices work only when they are being used. Even when they are being used 24/7, they tell you only where the criminal is, not what he is doing. Reporting hardly restricts what a criminal does with the other nine-tenths of his time when he is not reporting.

One of the most insidious aspects of “alternatives to incarceration” programs is that those who control such programs often control also the statistical and other information that would be needed to assess the actual consequences of these programs.

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