Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is Prison Cost Effective For Criminals?

On Monday I posted a story about the lack of cost effectiveness in the prison system as far as reducing crime. Yesterday there was a piece over at NPR that dovetails with that earlier piece. The NPR story looks at how criminals become better criminals in prison. 
"Spending time in prison leads to increased criminal earnings," Hutcherson says. "On average, a person can make roughly $11,000 more [illegally] from spending time in prison versus a person who does not spend time in prison." 
As to the process by which this happens, he says, "You come in [to prison]. You're 16, 17, 18 years old. You're looking around and you're thinking, 'Listen, I can learn from these seasoned veterans.' And that's exactly what you do. ... Basically, you are spending a lot of time around other criminals, seasoned veterans who know the lay of the land, and they can teach you the mechanisms — ways to get away with crime."
If prison isn't cost effective in reducing crime and time spent in prison makes criminals better criminals shouldn't we rethink what we're doing?

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