“Incarcerating one person in the state for one year costs about $60,000.”

This isn’t remotely how prison cost work, but of all the wrong takes on incarceration this is the one I most think simply cannot be changed.

It’s like the “million dollar blocks” claim. Equally wrong for the same reason, but so intuitively appealing that I think it is basically invulnerable.

So we’ll cut prisons, and not see the savings, and not get why (happened to a program in IN that made EXACTLY this error).
In short: $60,000 is the AVERAGE cost.

But 2/3 of that cost, if not more, if wages. Then some is heating and cleaning and other fixed costs.

So release 1, or 10, or maybe even 1,000, and savings will be <<< $60,000 per. Maybe $10,000, maybe less.

Marginal <<< average.
Cut the prison pop enough that you close entire wings or facilities AND cut the staff that works there (and given pub sector union power, the first need not lead to the second), and maybe you can save that $60,000 per.

But need huge cuts in prison pop to do so.

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More from @JohnFPfaff

1 May
I think a lot of the negative attention this paper is getting is bc it is seen as undermining reforms. Which… it’s not!

To say that incarceration reduces some bad outcomes is NOT to say that it does so OPTIMALLY.

Think this points to a vulnerability in reform rhetoric:
A lot of anti-prison rhetoric starts at “prison has entirely negative effects.”

And it’s true that studies increasingly indicate that the effects are, on net, much weaker than proponents suggest.

But some ppl are imminently dangerous. Removing them likely has some gains.
But that does not mean prison is the EFFECTIVE way to do this. It doesn’t mean it’s the MORAL way to do this. None of this accounts for how we ignore the social costs of how we’ve done it.

But assuming these results replicate, they’re useful to have.
Read 4 tweets
29 Apr
These laws are never used as intended, and always metastasize to more-common actions. They are always written too broadly.

Like Salt Lake’s DA, who used a sloppily-written anti-gang law to thread two women w life sentences for… throwing paint. ImageImage
Already we see states and the Feds trying to figure out how to push protesting behavior into something far worse.

We are already arresting and charging the insurgents. We don’t need new laws to get them. ImageImage
“But what about investigations?”

It’s worth noting that the PATRIOT Act created a special “sneak and peek” warrant to target terrorism… which has been used almost entirely to go after routine drug cases.

Same thing will happen here. Image
Read 6 tweets
28 Apr
Alabama held off resentencing Miller—whose SPECIFIC sentence SCOTUS declared unconstitutional in Miller v AL in 2012—until this week, almost a decade later.

And mere days after SCOTUS made it easier to sentence kids to life without parole.

Which AL did.

The judge noted growth, but then expressed his own scientific sense that he was “unsure” if Miller could function outside controlled settings.

And based on his gut instinct, declared no one should ever be able to reevaluate his decision ever again, until Miller dies in prison.
The arrogance of the judges, the arrogance of the SCOTUS justices who perpetuate this, the arrogance of the legislatures who authorize this and the prosecutors who impose and defend these sentences.

And the cold indifference to the struggles of struggling children.
Read 8 tweets
28 Apr
“Ready for the pop?” the officer says, rewatching video of him throwing a 73 yr old woman w dementia to the ground and dislocating her shoulder.

“I love it” he says.

Abt dislocating the shoulder of an old woman w dementia. Over an alleged $13 shoplifting issue (see: dementia).
Thinking more, maybe this is worse:

“I hate this,” says one officer in the video (of the other guy reveling in his abuse).


Chief says the dept didn’t hear abt the abuse until the victim filed her lawsuit.

If that’s true… what does that say abt the “hate this” officer?
This is what lays bare the “bad apples” take.

If the “good apples” stay quiet, are they really good?

Or how about the departments that FIRE good apples for good apple-ing (like Buffalo, or the WV one)?

It’s systemic and structural and cultural.
Read 4 tweets
27 Apr
As SCOTUS readies itself to gut urban gun control laws, I can’t help but recall the single greatest swing and miss in data visualization.

The impact of stand your ground on murder in FL. It… is not saying what it looks like. It isn’t.

Looks pro-SYG.

It’s not. It’s really not.
Look at that y-axis.

Look at it again. Your eyes aren’t messing with you.

It’s upside down.

But this is Reuters, not the NRA. What happened?!

A lesson that subtle changes can do… a lot.
The Reuters graph was an allusion to this striking one from The NY Times on the toll of the Iraq War.

Here, the inverted y axis is immediately clear: it’s blood running down a wall. We get it instantly.

For Reuters? It’s that black line.
Read 4 tweets
27 Apr
So… Congress isn’t going to repeal the PLRA, not any time soon. It doesn’t face popular anger, and letting ppl in prison back into court isn’t getting 60 votes in the Senate, maybe not 50.

But! There are things we can do—just indirectly.
A student of mine, for ex, has a note coming out in the Fordham L Rev this fall arguing, among other things, for pushing states to streamline (and even make electronic) their grievance processes: make it easier to satisfy exhaustion.
The PLRA—or, really, the fed courts’ strange read of the PLRA—caps lawyer fees. So states could fund indigent counsel to handle those sorts of cases.

None might be as good as a full repeal, but that seems utterly unlikely. Seemed unlikely in 2015. So in 2021?
Read 4 tweets

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