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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why I'm Bitter: Incarceration Nation

"We spent $9 billion on prisons and jails nationwide in 1982. Twenty years later, the figure was $60 billion. It costs about as much to house a prisoner for a year as it does to send a young man to an elite private university--and all prison is likely to teach him is how to commit crime again. Several states spend more on prisons than they do on higher education. Without re-entry, prison will become a revolving door."
The Nation's David Cole looks at the recently passed Second Chance Act aimed to ease the transition of our prison population back into society at large - almost 700,000 this year alone.
"From 1979 to 2005, the US incarceration rate tripled, and drug offenses went from accounting for 6 percent of the nation's prisoners to 25 percent. Today, the United States has 2.3 million people in prison or jail, and boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world--five times higher than the next highest Western country, the United Kingdom."
Something has to be done, and at only $2 a person over a four year period, it's worth it.
"Three hundred and thirty million dollars may seem like a lot of money at first blush--until you realize that we spend more than twice that much every day on the war in Iraq."
How much of that money goes to "rehab" the Iraqi prisoners Saddam released just before we started bombing?

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