My home state spends approximately $60,000 a year per inmate in our severely overcrowded penal system. I wonder if we couldn't save some money, while also improving conditions.
My idea is that we take the non-violent, lesser criminals in our jails and offer them a deal. We will pay them $18,000 a year to live outside of prison. The only caveat is, they have to keep their nose clean. They wouldn't have to do anything else. It would be sort of like a welfare check. But break the law again and the $18,000 goes away, and their butt is back in prison. If it worked, it would save my home state $42,000 per inmate.
Would they take it?
I know $18,000 isn't a lot of money to make in a year. It's about half of the median income in my state. It's also approximately what a person on welfare gets in a year.
I'm confident people could find a way to live on it.
Actually, I'd put one more condition in place. I'd give them $15,000 the first year and use the other $3,000 to relocate them. They would need to relocate to a new city. Many people get into trouble because of the influence of their peer group. Getting them away from that peer group would give them an opportunity to start over, and the $18,000 a year would give them time to reacclimatize.
I don't know if it would work or not, but I would love to see it tried.