Making Crime Pay! David H. Dallas 2003

1696 words - 7 pages

Making Crime Pay!December 12, 2003English 111: Writing IIClarion University of PADavid 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).Crime Pays!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, effectively cutting its costs by half. In Oregon, a ten-convict work crew may be leased for only $30 a day (Miller 4).Erica Barnett is an investigative journalist representing the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees. In her article, "Retailers Profit from Prison Labor", she states that prisoners are simply sent back to their cells when business is slow as opposed to the complex and costly lay-off process otherwise required (1).Prisoners are also well suited for seasonal and short-demand work, since the prison can assemble any size work force on very little notice. Repetitive, unattractive jobs can be easily filled. As one employer says, it's difficult to get someone to sit for seven or eight hours a day and polish a bolt until it shines (Miller 5)Convicts have proven to be more dependable than workers from the private sector. Jeff Black, a TWADirector claims, "we know that [the prisoner] is more likely to show up regularly for work [and] we know that they are not going to be late for work.That kind of dependability is important to us." (qtd. in Elliott 1).Prisoners Can Benefit Too"The mission is to give offenders a work...

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