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Save Money By Crime

Britain’s ballooning prison population is a disastrous mess | Harry Woolf - Times Online
In such a severe economic crisis it is folly to have policies that make the prison population substantially higher than is necessary. Many US states are introducing policies to cut the number of prisoners, which, in turn, has cut reoffending. We must do the same.

I would like to know where he gets his US proof from - my understanding is summarised:

The Great California Prison Experiment - Freakonomics
letting out the prisoners is more or less a wash from a societal cost-benefit perspective. The money we save from freeing the prisoners is on the same order of magnitude as the pain and suffering associated with the extra crime.


Instead of concentrating on lowering the cost of prisons as a whole (a doddle just by releasing lots of them...) they should concentrate on lowering the unit cost of prisoners. Is £50k a perp, a year, acceptable?(Taking rough figures of £4.5bn spent on prisons and 90k prisoners)


These are some of the reasons why:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the 'tent city jail' to save Arizona from spending tens of millions of dollars on another expensive prison complex.

He has jail meals down to 20 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.

He banned smoking and pornographic magazines in the jails, and took away their weightlifting equipment and cut off all but 'G' movies. He says:

'They're in jail to pay a debt to society not to build muscles so they can assault innocent people when they leave.'

He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and city projects and save taxpayer's money.

Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.

He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only allows the Disney channel and the weather channel.

When asked why the weather channel, he replied: 'So these morons will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.'

He cut off coffee because it has zero nutritional value and is therefore a waste of taxpayer money. When the inmates complained, he told them, 'This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back.'

He also bought the Newt Gingrich lecture series on US history that he pipes into the jails. When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series that actually tells the truth for a change would be welcome and that it might even explain why 95% of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record for June 2nd 2007), the Associated Press reported: About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed wire surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

On the Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing pink boxer shorts were overheard chatting in the tents, where temperatures reached 128 degrees.

'This is hell. It feels like we live in a furnace,' said Ernesto Gonzales, an inmate for 2 years with 10 more to go.

'It's inhumane.'

Joe Arpaio, who makes his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. 'Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for parole, only to go out and commit more crimes so they can come back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things many taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.'

The same day he told all the inmates who were complaining of the heat in the tents: 'It's between 120 to 130 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to walk all day in the sun, wearing full battle gear and get shot at, and they have not committed any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!'

Way to go, Sheriff! If all prisons were like yours there would be a lot less crime and we would not be in the current position of running out of prison spaces.

If you agree, pass this on.

Simple plan: anyone who wants prisoners released early (on cost grounds) like Lord Woolf gets them living in the same street until the end of their sentence.

I'm sure they'll be just as enthusiastic after that experience.

I really don't like the idea of criminals not being jailed because we dont have enough places, or let out early to make room for other scum, or not given short sentences because of overcrowding.

I'm with Sherrif Joe.

Build more prisons. Jail everyone who is guilty. Keep them there until the end of their sentence. Dont make it a holiday camp.

I think we should also be looking at ways to turn the prisons into a profit centre instead of seeing them purely as am expense. Ignore all the limp-wristed lefties, 'uman rights idiots, prison reform numpties and other pro-thug groups - their PC ideas have been proven to be failures.

The old "sewing mailbags" routine is probably not available any longer but I'll bet there's something they could be doing that would a) keep them busy all day, every day b) earn money or reduce cost and c) maybe even give some of them a useful skill. Growing food springs to mind as an easy start. It hits a) and b), not sure about c). There are bound to be others.

Whilst these comments are true, and prison should be an unpleasant place run at minimal cost, we need to be careful about proposing to treat all "criminals" the same. For a long time people have been jailed for offences which do not render them a general threat to the public, and for which supervised unpaid work would be a better penalty. And this was before the previous Labour government created such a bewildering array of new offences - no doubt some of which are imprisonable (either directly or indirectly), for things which would have been deemed legal 15 years ago. Surely a reduction in prison population could be achieved by a reduction and rationalisation of criminal law, with a much heavier hand applied to the remaining few who really warrant imprisonment.

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