It’s Prison Time in America

Like it or not, the American campaign season is descending upon us. What that means for you and me is a host of new hopeful candidates pantomiming stale campaign platitudes.

You’re probably saying, “fine, okay, nothing new there.”

The problem is that when those candidates are elected to serve in public office, many times they actually do make good on those campaign promises. I’ll explain.

One tried and true platform that is sure to be invoked during election season is public safety. Rhetoric that crime is prevalent and safety needs to be increased is popular with many politicians because it almost always rings true to voters.

“Has there been a crime in your area recently? Have you seen graffiti on buildings or streets? Wouldn’t it be nice if that didn’t happen anymore? I’m the candidate that will make it stop.”

Voilà, your newly minted public servant now has a mandate to pass new laws that probably put people in jail and cost the state millions of dollars.

A new article in VOX sheds light on the accumulative impact that happens when a large number of legislators feel pressure to be tough on crime.

In Nevada, there are currently 35 bills in the State House that would create new crimes or stiffen penalties for existing offenses. Most of the proposed statutes do not have a significant impact on their own. But when all of these bills are piled together, they end up costing the state millions while also increasing the already overcrowded prison population.

Even bills that only imprison offenders for a year end up costing the state millions because similar bills are likely to be enacted in the next legislative cycle, creating a self-serving cycle that has increased prison populations during a period of time when overall crime has gone down.

Read the full article here.