Magazine article Corrections Forum

Cost of Prison Prompts Change in U.S. States

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Cost of Prison Prompts Change in U.S. States

Article excerpt

BBC News, U.S. & Canada

Just under half of those released from prison in the U.S. will be back there within three years. And failure does not come cheap. It costs $27,000 to hold one prisoner for a year. Last year, states spent $50 billion on incarceration. Criminal justice professionals have a phrase that sums up the financial challenge: the "million dollar block" - a city neighborhood where a million dollars a year is spent locking up people from a single block. And then there is what might be called collateral damage from time spent in prison. "Like a party without the women" is how Antoine, a former crack dealer, describes it. The prisons he went to are rife with drugs and rich in criminal-learning experiences.

Across the U.S., prison numbers have exploded in the past three decades. Now some states - led by those once most enthusiastic about throwing away the key - are trying to call a halt. In 2007, Republican legislators in Texas were given a bill for $2 billion - what it would cost to build 17,000 new prison places in years to come. …

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