Professor John Pfaff was quoted in an article discussing how some district attorneys are advocating for the price of incarceration to become a factor in court decisions of punishment and justice.
And some judges don’t want to know how much a prison term will cost. They argue that money has no place in decisions about punishment and justice. Choosing a sentence, they say, should involve weighing the specific situation and needs of the offender and victim, irrespective of budget.
Of course, the financial toll of incarceration isn’t necessarily the most significant toll. “What do we gain from not sending one person to prison? It’s not really that reduction in $7,000 a year in tax spending. It’s that this person doesn’t get raped, he doesn’t get HIV, his child doesn’t suffer the stigma of a father who’s in prison,” says Pfaff. “When people return from prison, they tend to be sicker, they have a harder time finding a job. All these things are the real costs.” And they can increase the chances of a person reoffending.