Reducing recidivism with financial incentives

this article via (http://freakonomics.com) U.S. prisons are costly, overcrowded, and filling up with people who don’t belong there. A simple economic bonus system for reducing recidivism could change that. caught my eye.

Prisons are expensive. The war on drugs fills prisions with people. We pay for prisons. Prisons make money for corporations. We have a public school to prision pipeline to keep these corporations profitable because we are pumped with fear daily.

Now that that’s out of the way, the incentive is to keep people going back to prision so corporations can keep making money, but it offers no benefit to the community in which these criminals come from. I don’t think you should go to prision for 20 years for smoking weed, but that’s another subject.
The article talks about changing the incentive from a reincarceration based system to a reformation based one:

“There’s a better way. Instead of encouraging incarceration, incentivize performance. How might the performance of the department of corrections be measured? By recidivism. A drop in reincarceration would offer evidence that well-performing prisons are not places that breed more criminals but provide rehabilitation instead.”

It’s all motivated by money, but still it’s a worthy cause. Redirection of the money will change the fortunes of millions of incarcerated people, and have a large impact on society as a whole. After all the current prision system is purely evil, personally speaking and academically speaking, its horrifically dysfunctional. Any system that purposefully prepares children for incarceration is sociopathic.

2 thoughts on “Reducing recidivism with financial incentives

  1. Spot on. Think of our prisons as ashrams instead, as a cloistered place of learning, instead of a human garbage dump. There is much fertile ground to be found in our prisons, if we just shift our perceptions. As Steve Colbert opines: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” So far, we haven’t wanted to do it. I cannot wrap my brain around why not?

  2. I think the most missed point of the current prison system is the massive amount of profit that it makes for companies who run the prisons. It’s a perfect business plan if you think about it.
    take an illegal substance that has a 2000% profit mark-up, an easily identifiable population of distributors, racially motivated law enforcement that’s backed by righteous indignation, mandatory minimums, a permanent reduction in rights from previous offenders, and prisons that make money off the amount of incarcerated people.
    Seems to me like a machine that uses the war on drugs to fuel its profits.

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