Tough on crime is tough on taxpayers

By Natasha Hamilton

While the “tough on crime” policies seems fair, it has become apparent to researchers over the past century that the tough on crime idea is ineffective in deterring criminal activity and punishes taxpayers.

A report by the organization, “The Price of Prisons”, states that the average cost of incarcerating one inmate in Oklahoma is $18,467. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has $441.8 million in prison expenditures. The state went over their budget $11.6 million in prison-related costs. The state’s average daily population in prison is 24,549.

This issue goes far beyond the boundaries of Oklahoma. The cost of incarcerating one inmate in Fiscal Year 2010 was $31,307 per year. This means that we, taxpayers, spend on averages $63.4 billion a year on incarcerating inmates. Nearly 65 million American have criminal convictions.

The Community Service Council stated that the more employment opportunities for individuals, the less likely for individuals to commit crimes and more likely they will become law-abiding citizens as well as taxpayers. Oklahoma law takes away many civil rights of the individuals convicted of a felony including the ability to be state employed, bear arms, and possibly not have a driver’s license. A felon may not hold licensures for professions of law, architecture, accounting, engineering, medicine, dentistry, electrologist, pharmacy, psychology, veterinary science, real estate appraisal, occupational therapy, marriage and domestic counseling, osteopathy, nursing, and cosmetology, or employment in such fields as a pawnbroker, polygraph examiner, security guard, or in the security alarm industry.

In an article, Gene Perry of the Oklahoma Policy Institute writes that Oklahoma considers many offenses felonies that other states would consider misdemeanors. He also indicated that job restrictions are one of three barriers that prevent felons from rehabilitation.

So what should we do to fix this problem? Our community should show support for House Bill 2168, which strives to amend the law that prohibits so many from rehabilitation by allowing individuals with felonies that opportunity to obtain licensures for the professions listed above after five years if their crime was not violent and did not involve the profession.



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