In such instances, prison terms are far more costly and less effective than alternative programs. Effective alternative programs, regardless of intensity, are still the less costly option. There are other sanctions and programs available, such as probation, treatment programs, work-release programs and a host of combined services that, when combined and applied appropriately, may prevent crime without the expense of prison. Criminologist James Q. Wilson believes that prison has been overused as states have Expanded their incarceration programs. “They have dipped deeper into the bucket of persons eligible for prison, dredging up offenders with shorter and shorter criminal records.” Wilson argues that the costs to society may far outweigh the benefits. Increased incarceration does little to increase public safety. The cost of America’s correction system “now exceeds $60 billion per year” (Austin & Fabelo 7). Those who have violated their probation for convictions of alcohol and drug use, unemployment and failure to pay court fees has also increased, as a result. The increased cost ultimately is passed on to taxpayers, with little return for their investments. Crimes related to drugs, property and public disorder have little to no connection with pain and suffering to victims. Yet , “over 90% of crimes committed are of this nature” (Austin & Fabelo 9). Public safety is not even an issue. Effective alternative programs, which could include job training, education, rehabilitation and other services based on ability to pay would likely save taxpayers and communities money.
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