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USA : the true cost of mass incarceration exceeds $1 trillion
In recent years, the bipartisan push for criminal justice reform has been fueled in large part by the astronomical price tag that comes with mass incarceration. Locking people up in federal, state, and local correctional facilities costs the government a whopping $80 billion, and taxpayers end up footing the bill. But a Washington University study released in July projects that the price tag touted by advocates of reform is a mere fraction of the actual cost of mass incarceration.
When the financial toll on social welfare is taken into account, the working paper estimated the cost exceeds $1 trillion.
According to researchers Carrie Pettus-Davis and Michael McLaughlin, the incarcerated population misses out on $70.5 billion in lost wages. While previous studies show that former prisoners less likely to be hired, and make significantly less money than their colleagues when they do secure jobs, Pettus-Davis and McLaughlin concluded that reduced wages add up to $230 billion in lost earnings.
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