Why do prisons cost so much?!


While imprisonment may currently be the best solution for more serious criminals, a large portion of prison populations consists of those who have committed less violent crimes, specifically drug offenders. As recently as 2009, statistics show that prisoners convicted of drug-related offenses made up approximately 50.7 percent of the total population in federal prisons.

The American Corrections Association showed that states spent approximately $17,110,415 per day to hold 253,300 drug offenders in prison during 2007. Seventeen million dollars in just one day for only drug offenders incarcerated in the United States. If you do the math, that is $6,245,301,475. In a year, the United States is spending about six and a quarter billion dollars solely on keeping prisoners who are drug offenders.

There are various alternatives within the criminal justice system that are not only less expensive, but maybe more successful in helping these types of convicts assimilate back into society instead of occupying more space in jails and prisons. Among these alternative methods is the use of drug courts and their rehabilitation programs, as well as community service sentencing. Utilizing these methods of the criminal justice system more heavily can help reduce spending all over the country, which could potentially be billions of dollars.

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7 Responses to Why do prisons cost so much?!

  1. mike cardinute says:

    Yes, I agree it will cut cost, but there is a price to pay to stop this big business. I do not think that drug courts, rehabilitation programs, and community service sentencing will do anything to stop this issue. They will spend money putting these drug offender through all these programs to see them back on the street selling drugs once they are out of the programs. I could be wrong, but I think that what the U.S. is doing to keep these drug dealers off the street is necessary and the best solution right now.

  2. tpm011 says:

    do you know the numbers between drug users and drug dealers? I think that only big time drug dealers should be put in prison, and while it may get one big player off the street it will just create a vacancy for another entrepreneur to get their business.

  3. Nate says:

    Drug users empower drug dealers. Without drug users there is no need for drug dealers and vice versa. Fact of the matter is that these drug users/dealers promote crime. They belong in jail. I do not think that giving them less of a punishment like community service would do much good and I think crime would only increase. I’d rather go with a more strict punishment like life in prison or even the death penalty for these dealers who are responsible for many deaths through gang related activity. Maybe increasing the punishment would be more effective. I understand that it is expensive to cell these prisoners, but I feel it is definitely essential for society.

  4. tesoman says:

    On a different outlook on things what if drugs such as Mariguana were legal; what effect would that have on the number of people in jail? It is not secret that California is seriously looking into making weed legal (http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/03/25/us-marijuana-california-idUSTRE62O08U20100325) but is this a function of “hippies” trying to bring back the 80’s or is this a smart move for the state?
    California (http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/20/states-debt-pensions-interactive-map.html) has been known to have a problem with debt and should weed become legal the state would be able to put tax on the product. This would bring in a lot of new revenue for the government and free a large amount of the prison expenses mentioned above. But would this be a crossing of a moral line? And if so is the crossing justified in this case?

  5. cornerback5 says:

    Although expensive, I believe that prisons are a more effective solution to the drug problem than rehabilitation. If you were a drug dealer, would you be more afraid of cold hard time in the penitentiary, or a nice cozy environment in a rehab facility? I actually think that the latter would make dealers less worried about the consequences they face in committing their crimes. I believe that hard time in prison is better to address this problem also because the effects drugs can have on people’s lives. One dealer can corrupt thousands of people’s lives by pushing drugs of this and that sort. So in essence, I believe that time in prison better matches the crime of selling drugs better than alternatives, such as rehab.

  6. Pingback: Best of Blog Week 8 | Biz Gov Soc

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