Tuesday, February 2, 2010
[1882 - James Joyce, writer, born in Dublin, Ireland]
In 2007 the Sacramento Bee reported that the average annual cost of housing an inmate in the California prison system was $43,287 per year. Like just about everything else, this expense goes up each year. Another way of looking at the cost is that it takes about $120 per day to house the least productive members of our society. With a recidivism rate above 70%, and a continuously increasing penal population, California is preparing to build a number of new prisons and staff them with correctional officers who can make a salary of more than $73,000 per year, plus benefits. The State of California incarcerates 172,000 inmates in 33 prisons (and other facilities), most of which are packed to more than twice their designed capacity. Things are not much different in the rest of the Country where more than one out of every hundred adult citizens of the land of the free is in jail (2.3 million).
There are plenty of single parents in our workforce who are supporting themselves and their children on less than half what it costs our society to keep a single prisoner locked up. Part of the increase in the cost of warehousing the least desirable elements of our society has gone into providing these felons with improved health care. Many of our citizens in the working classes are without insurance and are forced to forego health care for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, California has begun to outsource its prison population to some of the other states of the Union in order to relieve its overcrowding problem.
One wonders how our country can remain competitive in a global economy when our priorities are so crazy that it costs more to imprison a citizen than it does to gainfully employ one. Perhaps we should begin outsourcing criminals to India instead of sending that country thousands of jobs previously held by working Americans. Not only could the Indians keep our prison population for a fraction of what it costs us to do so here, but there is a certain deterrent value in the prospect of serving time outside your native land. On the other hand, we might try treating our drug addicts instead of locking them up, which would cut the prison population down to a manageable number.
William's Whimsical Words:
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