Jailed for Life for Stealing a $159 Jacket? 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Crimes… Housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard

by Orangutan

Not sure who’s responsible for this, but we as tax payers are funding it at whatever cost per year. Private prisons are profiting? Lobbyists run the gov’t?

via democracynow:

A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino — evidence of what the ACLU calls “extreme racial disparities.” The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check. We speak with Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher and author of the new ACLU report, “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.”

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related crimes. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino—evidence of what the ACLU calls “extreme racial disparities.” The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check.

AMY GOODMAN: Sixty-three percent of those serving life without parole for these nonviolent offenses are in federal prisons. Most were sentenced under mandatory minimum laws. The ACLU says keeping nonviolent offenders behind bars for life is costing taxpayers an additional $1.8 billion. In a minute, we’ll be joined by the author of the study. But first, this is a clip from a video that features family members of some of the more than 600 prisoners it profiles

 

Housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard

The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year

More than tuition at Harvard University

That’s enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer

Gov. Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.

Cost per prisoner has doubled since 2005

The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.

The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard.

Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.

Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling.

“Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center.

For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.

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