Join me over at Goodreads: On Laissez-faire and Mass Incarceration
I’ve been tracking the budget debates regarding incarceration and I’ve just started a thread over at Goodreads to interactively discuss the puzzling relationship between punishment and economic logics. The major question on the table is how come laissez faire has gone hand-in-hand with mass incarceration? How can these paradoxical notions of liberty co-exist?
Another way to ask this is: What makes the prison budget seemingly impervious to deficit constraints? Although most of the cost of mass incarceration today is borne by states, the case of the federal budget is a perfect illustration. Think about it. We have a Democratic presidential administration that explicitly calls for reducing mass incarceration and has plans to release well-behaved convicts. We have continuing drops in violent crime at the national level. We are about to slash education programs because of our exponential federal deficit. And yet the Obama administration just proposed an 11 percent increase in spending on the federal prison system. What makes that particular budget line impervious?
Join me over at Goodreads if you would like to join in on the conversation...