I’ve had this tab sitting open on my computer for the past two weeks with the intention of forking over the $5 and reading Steven Levitt’s 1995 paper, The Effect of Prison Population Size on Crime Rates: Evidence From Prison Overcrowding Litigation. Here’s the a-ha line from the abstract:
For each one-prisoner reduction induced by prison overcrowding litigation, the total number of crimes committed increases by approximately 15 per year. The social benefit from eliminating those 15 crimes is approximately $45,000; the annual per prisoner costs of incarceration are roughly $30,000.
As I pointed out in my recent piece on the California prison guards union, the current annual per prisoner cost in California is about $45,000. It would be interesting to see a version of Levitt’s study with updated numbers.
At any rate, this tends to show that though the CCPOA’s motives are bad, some of their goals have some merit. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.