Prisoners are now seen as an economic opportunity. Money that could be provided for more schools, colleges, housing and health care is being used to build more prisons; “there just isn’t enough to go around.” Here are six facts that show the truth behind prisons.
- On average, 80% of new prison jobs go to folks who don’t live, or pay taxes, in the prison town. For example, a new prison in Delano, CA created 1,600 new jobs. Only 79 positions went to local residents.
- Typically, prisons attract chain stores, which pushes out locally-owned businesses. Prisons are not very good economic development strategies because they create few links to the local economy. They generally order food and supplies from centralized state warehouses – not local grocery or hardware stores.
- There are blocks in Brooklyn, NY and many other places where the government is spending $1 million a year. Not on rehabilitation programs, education, job training, or health care. It’s being spent on imprisonment- another problem, not a solution. 98% of people return to that same block. They return jobless, without effective drug counseling or affordable housing. So, does it really make sense to spend $1 million this way?
- In the United States, 58% of people in prison are in for non-violent drug offenses.
- In New York, 75% of prisoners come from SEVEN African-American and Latino neighborhoods. Yet, there is little evidence that removing so many people from a community makes it safer.
- Two in three people will end up back in prison – half of these due to a parole violation, not a new crime. When you place people in prison, you put them on a road that is very hard to get off. They can no longer vote, provide for their families, and often have trouble finding jobs after they are released.
All information comes from Prison Town, the real cost of prisons project.