By Paul Bendix
A Modest Proposal...For PrisonsUploaded: Jan 2, 2014
Having argued about how to spend public money...let's argue about how not to spend it. On prisons.
Yes, we certainly need them. No, we do not need to incarcerate people at two or three times the rate of the rest of the developed world.
We can't afford it. It simply costs too much, both in dollars and general harm to our communities.
This is not the happiest of topics. Nor the most frequently discussed. The matter is safely locked away. Or unsafely.
Whatever one feels about prisons and their costs, the topic seems a worthy one.
We all know the statistics. In several recent years, California has spent more on prison construction than on school construction.
As for recidivism, our numbers don't look good. What do we Californians get for all this tax investment in penal institutions?
Which leads me to a question.
With our increasingly privatized prisons, are corrections companies ever offered financial incentives to keep incarceration numbers down? Expressed a different way, do such firms ever earn a bonus, say, for each released prisoner who doesn't reoffend for X years?
Any ideas about how to better align corrections contracts with incentives? There's a lot of money at stake.
Yes, and there's public safety at stake, as well. As a victim of violent crime, I've had time to think about this. I welcome your ideas.