Making Crime Pay!
December 12, 2003
English 111: Writing II
Clarion University of PA
David H. Dallas (author)
Tough On Taxpayers
"Let's get tough on crime", while a popular theme with politicians and voters alike, has spawned an avalanche of mandatory sentencing laws which have led to prison overcrowding and ballooning costs to the taxpayers. Over the next five years, the federal and state prison population is projected to increase to 1.6 million. The annual maintenance cost of a single prisoner is estimated at $30,000 (Reynolds 1).
In order to defer prison costs, politicians have passed legislation, which allows businesses to hire convicts. Bob Gobin in "Prison Labor Makes Sense" quotes one legislator who stated, "Prison is the price for crime. [We must] minimize the price that citizens pay to exclude criminals from society" (1). In order to minimize this expense, correctional institutions can now subtract the cost of incarceration, mandatory savings, victim's compensation, Social Security and Medicare from inmate's wages (Miller 6).
Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) has called for prison labor to pay half the cost of the federal prison system (Reese 6).
Will It Be Enough?
This new source of funding could be significant according to Morgan O. Reynolds, Director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and Texas A&M University economics professor. If even half of the prisoners could be employed during the next 5 years, their work would cut taxpayer costs by almost $9 billion per year, or about 25% of the total cost of prison support (1).
Will Businesses Go For It?
Prisons are a resource of inexpensive labor eliminating the need to relocate overseas. Lockhart Technologies went from paying non-prisoners $10 an hour to paying prisoners minimum wage plus only $1 a year in rent,