If Florida incarerated people today atthe same rate as in FY1972-73 (126.8 per100,000), the prison population would be23,848, at a cost of $446 million insteadof the $2.4 billion Florida spent inFY2009-10.
It is tempting to credit the decline in crimeto the increase in the rate of incarceration.Some have tried hard to make such a case,but research shows that while somedecrease in crime is attributable toincarcerating dangerous criminals, after a point, increased rates of incarceration offerdiminishing returns and a negative benefit-to-cost ratio. This is especially true when weincreasingly incarcerate people for nonviolent drug offenses and other low-level crimes.
The Vera Institute for Justice examined the key studies on this issue and found that; “
Analystsare nearly unanimous in their conclusion that continued growth in incarceration will preventconsiderably fewer, if any, crimes – and at substantially greater cost to taxpayers.”
Indeed,several states are finding that they can decrease theircrime rates while simultaneously decreasing theirincarceration rates, as demonstrated in the figure below.
Pew Center on the States, Public Safety Performance Project,
One in 31: The Long Reach of AmericanCorrections,
March 2009, at 17-21.
Reconsidering Incarceration, New Directions for Reducing Crime,
Vera Institute of Justice, January2007.
Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research
Pew Center on the States