Long costs and potential savings of parole and probation violations

calculate the cost to your state of incarcerating people for violations of parole or probation - a new tool from The Justice Center

A new cost calculator from The Justice Center, a policy organization, allows us to see the real time cost per state for sending people back to prison.

Why does this matter?

  • You may have heard of the term recidivism before: this is the rate at which someone who is charged in court with a crime reoffends or someone in prison returns to prison for violating parole terms or getting convicted of another crime.

  • Basically if a recidivism rate is high, we can assume that incarceration and the justice system is not breaking the cycle of behavior or improving the situation in someone’s life to avoid run ins with the law.

  • But it is not that simple: supervision after release (parole) or instead of incarceration (probation) can send people straight to failure due to the way it is set up. Read more here about that: The Marshall Project.

  • Thus begins the cycle of getting trapped in the system. Miss a court date due to work, sent back to jail for a week. Miss a probation appointment, back to jail. Fail a drug test, back to prison.

  • This not only incurs a huge cost to taxpayers in more jail and prison costs, but parole and probation themselves are expensive endeavors for the state.

Some things I pulled for you:

  • If Colorado reduced violations that landed people locked back up by 29% (2,940 fewer violations) for just one year within five years 1,161 fewer people in prison would save the state almost $67 million.

  • On the flip side: If revocations of parole of probation increased for a year by 100% over 4,000 more people incarcerated would cost the state $310 million over five years.

  • California could save over $5 billion over five years and reduce its incarcerated population by over 25,000 people if it minimized its violations sending people back behind bars to just 5,370 for one year.

Go check it out for yourself here and comment on this post what you find for your state: cost calculator.

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