12/11: Is arrest expensive, ineffective practice?

By the AJC Editorial Board

Locking ’em up and ditching the key never was a cheap approach to punishing criminals. Nor was it particularly effective, or efficient, it seems.That must change, as a new report makes clear that our criminal corrections model is broken, unaffordable and unsustainable.

That’s proved by the cost of maintaining this dysfunctional system. It has more than doubled since 1990, standing now at more than a $1 billion annual burden to this cash-tight state.

The good news is that remaking our corrections system should save money in the long run. As a bonus, it might help the crime rate fall even further.

Doing a better job of handling criminals is a necessity for reasons other than monetary ones. In the past two decades, Georgia’s prison head count more than doubled, driving us into the unwanted distinction of having one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Meanwhile, our criminal recidivism — backsliding, if you will — has remained unchanged for a decade as prison stints did little to prevent inmates from showing up at the gates time and again.

Read what our editorial board has to say and comment below.

30 comments Add your comment

mountain man

December 11th, 2011
11:56 am

Aquagirl – “…and places them in an environment where they learn to be vicious, because the weak guys end up as girlfriends. For an added bonus, they can learn how to be really, really good criminals. Now you are releasing an unemployable ex-con onto the streets with an advanced degree in mayhem”

So let’s just keep doing what we are doing now – just let them all go with no meaningful time, and they repeat the crime as soon as they get out.See posts about the crime at Tech – one perp had been arrested and convicted 10 times – with only a month or two of “jail” (read- free rooom and board) in between his arrests. And how many times did he get away with his crimes in between those?


December 11th, 2011
11:15 am

The most important consequence of arrest and incarceration, the one the left never likes to acknowledge, is that it removes criminals – if only temporarily – from society.

…and places them in an environment where they learn to be vicious, because the weak guys end up as girlfriends. For an added bonus, they can learn how to be really, really good criminals. Now you are releasing an unemployable ex-con onto the streets with an advanced degree in mayhem.

Brilliant, Shekema. Try rubbing a couple of brain cells together sometime. I’m sure the leftist thoughts would scare the pants off of you, though.

Free Market

December 11th, 2011
10:45 am

I have to say I find it particularly disgusting when I read folks who have kicked drug or alcohol habits saying that the threat of incarceration helped make the difference in getting them clean and sober. I mean I understand why the rehab folks say these kinds of things – they benefit tremendously from court imposed rehab, etc. so why would they take a stand in favor of freedom and the free market?

Look, I know that addiction is a serious issue. Using drugs, alcohol, food, sex, whatever in a manner than causes you harm and impacts others around you is a serious matter than needs to be addressed. BUT WHY SHOULD MY TAXES AND MY FREEDOMS BE THREATENED OR DESTROYED BECAUSE YOU CAN’T GET IT TOGETHER WITHOUT THE THREAT OF PRISON????

Your selfishness is destroying the lives of literally millions of individuals all over this country. There are plenty of folks who use drugs recreationally, medicinally, etc. with no problems in their lives (and really isn’t it up to them to determine that?) whose lives and families have been destroyed by the war on drugs. Look, if you have a problem, then MAN UP and get help. Others should not have to go to prison, face rape, loss of their children, loss of their families, etc. just because you haven’t hit rock bottom yet and need yet another parent threatening to take away your freedom if you don’t get straight. Just look at how insensitive and selfish that position is.

Personal responsibility can only be appreciated when it actually comes from you, not from outside threats from the parent figure masquerading as the government. If you want to be locked away while you get sober, then pay your own way, find a rehab that will do that for you, or go to some other country and violate their laws. I already pay enough in taxes and lost freedom for the government we have.


December 11th, 2011
9:25 am

The first step to rescuing the United States from drowning in corrections related red ink is to take ALL criminality off so called narcotics- particularly marijuana- AKA ganja, weed, pot, ishens, grass, kali, Tom-P, Korn, Marley, etc. The abuse of narcotics must become a health/social issue. The government’s drug criminal industry must be dismantled, since it is a net cost center for the national economy.

There is no one refusing to use illegal narcotics, because of the “illegal” classification. This means that those who would start because these substances became legal would be minimal or even negligible. We are using too much of our resources to pursue these types of “criminals” and with little tangible results.

Continuing to pursue drug criminals is sheer madness. Two bit weed dealers getting four and five years and child abusers are walking around in suit and tie….go figure.


December 10th, 2011
6:04 pm

hey duke, i like your style…

i worked in a ’supermax’ with some of the most violent, vicious and famed felons for several years. suddenly, i had to make a decision and hasty exit to maintain my sanity and family. i had to find another source of sustainence and found it by putting God first.

individuals on the ‘outside’ of the fence are no different than people behind bars. a couple of fellow officers sadly committed suicide, one high level supervisor killed someone. we’re all the same at heart.

every aspect, segment of society, nation and world is world is on the brink of self collapse, self disaster, self destruction for failure to abide in God’s law. it’s happening because we’ve distanced ourselves and believing in everything but God… so many things that obviously are getting ourselves into deeper despair

many of these blogs continually address the dire straits we face and remedies we seek, knowing the outcome grows continually bleak, we are way beyond optimism and the possiblity of things being resolved in any human capacity. this is a God only resolution, something way above our understanding and ability. it is possible. it’s a matter of hearts being where God requires and expects. the changes we all long for can and will only be accomplished by changes in our hearts and attitudes turning towards God. its not my opinion, that is what is written

peace to all this Christmas, it can be the best gift we’ve ever had if we receive it.


December 10th, 2011
5:55 pm

The most important consequence of arrest and incarceration, the one the left never likes to acknowledge, is that it removes criminals – if only temporarily – from society. And capital punishment brings the additional benefit that the killer will NEVER have the opportunity to do it again.


December 10th, 2011
4:09 pm

Yes, incarceration turns marginal delinquents into serious criminals, while some treatment programs are effective for that class of offender. But two points:

1) I had a problem with alcohol, a legal drug. The law worked about right. I got into trouble not for mere possession, but only when my life became disorderly. The treatment program worked- eventually. Addictions are notoriously hard to cure. But I never would have admitted my problem or submitted to treatment without the threat of more serious legal consequences.

2) The most effective treatment, without serious competition, is Christianity. It addresses the root cause, the sin nature in every man. But somehow, in this country whose founding documents represent the culmination of 200 years of Puritan political thought, we have reached the absurd point where Christian ministries are being excluded from our public square.

The great psychiatrist Karl Jung said that once the patterns of addiction become established in the parts of the brain that conrol the subconscious, cure is impossible. The only options are 24-hour-per-day guard, or lifetime incarceration. But sometimes he would observe a spontaneous spiritual transformation, which would instantly set the victim free from addiction. To bring a person to that experience is the essence of Christianity. It is the solution to everything, because it is the only religion or philosophy that is consistent with all that we know to be true about God, man, and the universe. More importantly, it is the only religion that has the real supernatural power to make its remedy effective.


December 10th, 2011
1:13 pm

chiatt – yes, using drugs is a victimless crime. Selling drugs is a victimless crime, as is manufacturing drugs. Assuming all actions related to these activities do not involve force, fraud or similar, there is no victim. What you speak of is a slippery slope. Horrific debt can destroy a family. Alcohol abuse can destroy a family. Infidelity can destroy a family. But in no case are the individuals impacted physically harmed and the financial issues are the result of the shared financial accountability that comes with the marriage contract. Are we to use this criteria and make virtually all activities illegal as they MAY harm someone emotionally or financially because of their relationship with another? Of course not. Such logic is specious when it is applied to drugs as well.

And as for the robbing and stealing, once again logic is not being applied. Currently with the proper license, you can purchase cocaine, methamphetamine, herion, and dozens of other illegal drugs from several chemical companies. They are produced in pure form for use in control materials needed for drug testing of blood and urine samples. Even with all of the DEA regulations these drugs cost about 1/20 of what they do on the black market. This is because drug prohibition has driven up their costs and the profits for dealers. If they were legal and even sold through pharmacies or similar, their cost would plummet. They are all very cheap to produce. Marijuana would like be grown by users and cost virtually nothing relative to today’s costs.

Yes, all of the crime that you associate with drug use is really a consequence of a failed government policy.

Am I saying that nobody on drugs commits violence against another or their property? Of course not. In fact, more violence is committed under the influence of alcohol than drugs – way more. And we hold these people accountable for their actions as should everyone.

Even in the case of theft, etc. that was mentioned. This is a property crime against someone. You don’t let people off for that. There is in fact a true victim.

When we head on down the slippery slop of “victimhood” as being applied to anyone whose feelings are hurt, whose emotions are impacted, etc. as a justification for making something illegal, then we run the risk of criminalizing speach (which of course we already have), and thousands of other actions that do not involve the direct injury to another or their property.

It is a scary argument to make, and most folks are waking up to the reality that our reliance on such logic has undermined our values and our society.


December 10th, 2011
11:11 am

Hillbilly D is correct. The people I have know, that have been in prison, don’t fear going back. Prison seems to be just a finishing school for criminals. If drugs were legalized, they would continue to be addictive . People would steal and kill to get the drugs or the money to buy the, People use other countries as an example of what we should do. This is silly. Some monarchies execute drug users. That cut’s down on their drug problem, but we don’t want to do that either.

Hillbilly D

December 10th, 2011
10:44 am

You could turn out all the non-violent offenders but that would be sending the message that it’s ok to steal, as long as you don’t hurt anybody.

In my area, the vast majority of the crime is meth related. People on meth can’t usually hold down a job and they have to get the money to buy it somewhere, so they steal.

Most of the people that I know personally, who’ve built time, and I don’t mean 30 days in the county jail, I mean 10-20 years at a stretch, just don’t care and they have no fear of going to prison. That’s part of the problem.