The Problem

Criminals: Turn them loose or pay a fortune to incarcerate them?

 

Yazzi Benally

Repeat Offenders

Pictured on the left is Yazzie Benally, who has been arrested over 450 times in Salt Lake City. He's not the worst offender. A four-year study of the worst 34 offenders in Salt Lake City recorded over 15,000 police contacts at a cost of millions of dollars. In fact, 70% of all parolees will re-offend within 5 years of release from prison.

 

chart on prison growth

Costs and Population

By all public accounts the American prison system is bursting at the seams with an estimated prison population of over 2.3 million. Despite these high numbers, crime and illegal drug distribution continues to be a problem in our nation. In California, which boasts the country's largest prison population, many jails are already at double capacity. According to the California Corrections and Rehabilitation Dept., the price to the taxpayers for running these prisons totals about $7 billion annually.

career criminal

60 Billion Dollars and No Solution

The cost of incarceration to states and the federal government is in excess of 60 billion dollars annually. Politicians are loathe to commit more criminals to prison because of the current high costs of incarceration, yet the public's desire for justice and safety have forced into effect a number of mandatory sentencing laws.