Incarceration of Criminals: Negatively Affecting the Economy?

In an interesting study titled "Diminishing Returns: Crime and Incarceration in the 1990s," some negative points of locking up criminals are discussed. One that is mentioned is a greater difficulty for the criminal in finding a job with the disadvantage of a criminal record. Another, is "breakup of families through divorce an parental rights." I used to think that whatever happened to a criminal was not my problem and that that person deserves whatever comes to them in the form of a punishment. However, through education, I have learned that other people's problems can often be my problems, at least indirectly. A person not being able to obtain a job, in my view, is a negative impact on the economy. The economy obviously affects me. Breakup of families has also proven to be detrimental to the economy. I would prefer to see families stay together. I know it's better for society and thus better for the country. So, maybe incarceration isn't having the positive effect that we thought it should. Maybe it's not the best choice (there is much more detailed discussion and backing in the article). Unfortunately, I can't think of an alternative.


BOB said...

While incarceration may not be the most ideal decision, it works. It takes criminals off our streets and locks them up for a time with the aspiration that they will learn from their faults. Many families are ruined by incarceration, but many are saved. Imagine the effects on the economy if we did not use incarceration.

Dr. Tufte said...

This is where economics (as a field) can potentially really make a difference to society. At the bottom, I also have a policy recommendation.

The reason is that sorting out the net effect of something like this is frightfully hard because the situation isn't an experiment. Statistics are easier in experimental sciences because you do all the hard stuff required to get clear answers in the way in which you set up the experiment. Drawing conclusions is much harder when you can't run the experiment over and over again to see what happens.

For statistical analysis of non-experimental data, economics is probably the top (or very near the top) science.

But I tend to doubt that any research on this has been done (if it has, I don't know about it). My guess is that it is devilishly hard to get good data on what the costs are of the difficulty finding a decent job or a family breakup. If you could get that, econometricians have tons of tools for ferreting out what is going on.

So, what should we do if we can't measure this sort of thing? Well, what Sandy is really driving at is the external costs of a criminal act done by an individual. We can't shift those external costs onto the criminal easily (so that they will recognize the higher costs of their crime and perhaps be dissuaded). The solution is to increase the penalties for being caught. That will tend to reduce the number of criminals who end up getting caught and incarcerated and the associated external costs.

Steve Martin used to have a routine in which he advocated the death penalty for parking violations. That's flippant, but moving in that direction is the tradeoff we have to make to reduce external costs of crime.

jon said...

compare textbook are so expensive. I agree, We have been looking for compare textbook all night for a new compare textbook class but havent been able to track down used compare textbook that I can afford. Anyway, I enjoyed looking at you compare textbook blog...


Steve Austin said...

Enjoyable blog. Please visit my texas bankruptcy lawyer blog.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for ideas for my site and found your site...good job.
My site is about free weight loss meal plan and other free diet stuff. thanks for some good ideas

Billy said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a get out of debt tip
site/blog. It pretty much covers get out of debt tip
related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

6sec said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a federal student loan consolidation site. It pretty much covers federal student loan consolidation related stuff.
Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about food for less. It pretty much covers food for less related stuff.

Rich Molumby said...

I have a Turnkey Royalty Free site/blog. It pretty much covers making money on the web.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Tom Naka said...

Hi i am totally blown away with the blogs people have created its so much fun to read alot of good info and you have also one of the best blogs !! Have some time check my link of international travel health insurance

heropoo said...

Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about sears credit card. It pretty much covers sears credit card related stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here!

I have a coat dog shampoos white site. It pretty much covers ##Coats for Dogs## related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time.

gastips said...

Nice Blog! Its great how useful the internet can be with its wealth of information. I will try and visit you blog on a regular basis to help you out.

If you want any Gas Saving Tips feel free to visit gas msnbc.msn.com price site

See ya soon.. :)

Bill888 said...

Interesting topics and nice blog. Will check back regularly. I have a american express foreign exchange site that deals with american express foreign exchangeand blog that also deals with american express foreign exchange related topics. Drop by if you have a chance.

St Louis Cardinals BUFF said...

So many blogs and only 10 numbers to rate them. I'll have to give you a 9 because you have a quailty topic.

Free Access To More Information Abouttrain

cc Infopage said...


I am searching around for fresh information
for my cc Infopage, 30,000 daily updated Information Pages about all kind of subjects.

It might interest you to know that your blog has been visited and has been read. I hope you enjoy your "Blogging".

I wish you all the luck I can, keep the good work going!

Kind regards,
Today's News From & About eBay

Get the eBay Business Box Today

doer said...

Hello, just visited your blog, it's informative. I also have a Eay related web site. Please visit and hope that it's useful.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a Health blog. It pretty much covers Dieting Health Fitness Exercise related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time

Editor Choice said...

Enjoyed your Blog. Continue your great job. Thanks
Here an interesting site regarding: Chicago travel: Best prices at Chicago travel, best in travel industry in Chicago have great deals in travel industry on hotels, flights, Chicago tours, Concerts, Sports Tickets, Restaurants, sight seeing in Chicago and much more. Has an impressive guide on Chicago, for your visit to Chicago, to provide useful travel information, hints and tips.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was searching blogs, and came onto yours fantastic blog.

I have a niche site. It pretty much covers fix your credit report.

Keep it up. I'll check back later im sure.

Adult Personals said...

hey i got here searching for easy qualify home loan

You have such a high ranking for that
Top 3 for easy qualify home loan

easy qualify home loan

Air Filters said...

Hey, nice blog and great info!
I have a new news article
site. It's a news article
site for those of you looking for information on news article
Come and check it out if you get time I would really appreciate it :-)

harvey3 said...

This blogstuff is great just looking around yours I have one too debt elimination free download calculator I have a website dedicated to gettin people out of debt all free info debt elimination free download calculator

Anonymous said...

Now you could find Classes for a multitude of subjects on your area , like could not find main class and they could be found by visiting could not find main class