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Miscellaneous Statements on Drug Policy

The Dollar Cost of Punishment


In 1990 an estimated $74.2 billion was spent on police, the courts and corrections. In 1991 state and federal

governments planned $6.8 billion in new prison construction, at an average cost of $53,100 per cell.

(National Council on Crime & Delinquency, Crime Reduction Policy, 1992)

It costs $32,000 a year to jail juvenile offenders, but $4,200 to educate a student in K-12 schools.

(Jerome Miller, National Center for Institutions and Alternatives)

The collective operating expenditure of local police departments during fiscal year 1990 was $20.6 billion

(employing 460,000 full-time people). This was 20 percent more than in 1987, when local police expenditures were $17.2 billion. (LEMAS program, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice, 1992)

Law Enforcement Expenditures increased from $80 million in 1938, to more than $3 billion in 1982, and to more than $41.5 billion by 1990. Police share of total city budgets increased from 8 percent (1940) to 14 percent (1980). (Unequal Justice)


The Human Cost of Punishment: People of Color Bear the Brunt

If incarceration trends continue, we will have 7.5 million people in prison before the turn of the century. Of those, four million will be Black. There are only 5.5 million Black men between 18 and 39 in the nation.

(National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Crime Reduction Policy, 1992)

23 percent of all Black men are caught up in the criminal justice system: in prison, on probation or on parole. There are more Black men in prison today than in college. For every Latino male with a college degree, there are 24 behind bars. 60 percent of inmates are either Black or Latino. (Washington Post, 11/23/93)

Where mandatory minimums apply, Black offenders were 21 percent more likely and Latinos 28 percent more likely than whites to receive at least the mandatory minimum prison term. (Federal Judicial Center, 1992)

47 percent of state prisoners in 1990 were Black and 12 percent were Latino; 61 percent of state prison inmates in 1986 had not completed high school; 35 percent of jail inmates in 1989 were unemployed prior to entering jail; 39 percent of jail inmates in 1989 free for at least one year prior to their arrest had incomes under $5,000. (Facts About Prisons and Prisoners, Bureau of Justice Statistics, June 1992)

In analyzing police brutality cases from January 1990 to May 1992, In These Times found out that 97 percent of victims were African Americans or Latinos, and that white police officers were centrally involved in 93 percent of these assaults. Social Net vs. Dragnet: Punishment Strategy Fails to Reduce Crime


Imprisonment and Crime

The states with the lowest crime rates have the lowest imprisonment rates, and states with the highest crime rates have the highest imprisonment rates There is no evidence that imprisonment reduces crime. (James Austin and Marc Mauer, USA Today, January 27, 1994)

San Diego and Dallas have about the same rate of police-to-population ratio, yet Dallas has twice as much crime reported to the police. Cleveland and San Diego, meanwhile, have comparable crime rates even though Cleveland has twice as many police per capita. Moreover, Washington, D.C., has both the highest murder rate and the most police per square foot of any city in the Western world. There doesnt seem to be any direct relationship between the amount of police and the crime rate.

Even if the nation's police forces were doubled from 1 to 2 million, we could still expect, at best, only a modest decrease in crimes. My conclusion is that there is no law enforcement solution to the crime problem. The factors that affect crime age, sex, race, social class, poverty, unemployment rates, illegitimacy, AFDC all those kinds of things are really beyond the reach of a law enforcement community. And, therefore, crime cannot really be materially affected by the use of law enforcement, or even correctional strategies. (Richard Moran, Professor of Criminology, Mount Holyoke College, in an interview with NPR)


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