October 10, 2017

Editorial: Cost of tough-on-crime policies do not add up

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Mass. Department of Correction / State House News Service

A cell at Souza-Baranowski maximum security prison in Shirley.

Budgets, we’re told by politicians and policy-makers, reflect the priorities and values of the community.

Want children educated? Fund education. Safe streets? Fund public safety. And so on.

But lost in the discussion over our priorities and values is a question central to the efficacy of our government: Is money being spent in a way that achieves the desired results?

It is in this light that we take note of a new study, “The Geography of Incarceration in a Gateway City,” prepared by MassINC and the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

Using data provided by the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department on all of the individuals admitted between 2009 and 2013, the report provides a detailed view of the explicit and implicit costs of the tough-on-crime policies of the 1980s.


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