2015 September 20 Sunday
Prisoners Accumulating Debt Per Day Incarcerated

Some state and local governments are trying to bill inmates for the costs of incarceration. Some jurisdictions go even further with billing for court costs and medical costs.

This brings up an interesting topic: What is the income level of the average person when they are convicted of a crime? People who make their living off of off-the-books criminal activity probably aren't making much money. How many criminals are high income? Surely some white collar Wall Street criminals have deep enough pockets to pay all their incarceration costs. But lots of these prisoner incarceration debts go unpaid.

But I think this idea of accumulating costs to society has a lot of potential. Do the same for welfare recipients and those who get subsidies for medical insurance and housing. Start summing up the total costs per person and per family. It does not even have to be sent for collection. It just has to be made public, aggregated, sliced and diced. What does the average 16 year old pregnant girl cost the rest of us? Track and accumulate their costs to us.

The same could be done with immigrants, legal and illegal. Collect data on their educational level, country of origin, educational level. While we already know that there is heavy welfare use by legal immigrants the devil is in the details. Which legal (or illegal) immigrants are the worst? Which are the best?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 September 20 11:54 AM 

Brett Bellmore said at September 21, 2015 2:53 AM:

I have no problem at all with charging people for services *they are allowed to refuse*, and which, ideally, the private sector is permitted to compete in offering. But charging prisoners for the cost of their imprisonment is unpleasantly similar to Mao's bullet fee.

And we don't want to make imprisoning people a profit center for the government. That has really, really bad incentives built in.

Seth W. said at September 23, 2015 3:06 PM:

Very simplistic way of looking at things. Not everything should be pragmatism "that works". Should we killed all those in jail? That would also be cheaper, right. Of course if you really think like that, your thinking is no better than a child's.

All the money spent in military in the last 5 years could've easily provided for every human need. Most inmates in the U.S. are there for a lack of money-related crime or violation. We use the word "crime" to refer to all sorts of things which are not really crime. Yes, lack of money which buys you an education to get a better job, lack of money which in the end buys you a wife and a family, lack of money with which to buy clothes, entertainment, leisure time, vacations, massages, drinks, all of which would dissuade you from becoming a criminal.

Maybe there are too many people in jail. Jail for not paying parking tickets, for fucks sake! The U.S. alone has more prisoners than China!

Every employer who denies a worker of fair payment, every government who denies its people basic human rights like tax-paid gratuitous health care and tax-paid gratuitous education, is contributing to social inequality and therefore anger.

Jails are filled with poor who cannot pay bail. Jails are filled with innocent ones who cannot afford hot shot lawyers.

Jim said at September 23, 2015 4:20 PM:

Seth - There is no welfare system at all in China and there are hundreds of millions of people who have almost nothing. But there is not much crime. Our crime problems are due to our black population. Blacks tend to high crime rates all over the world. The violent blacks of Baltimore have vastly more in material wealth and welfare services than the huge number of rural people in China who live in poverty that is beyond most American's imagination.

Check it out said at September 23, 2015 5:13 PM:


On what Seth W was saying:

There's free medical care in China and free education too. Equal opportunities that poor and middle class Americans lack. By the way, there are thousands of Americans who have almost nothing. Am I lying? Remember tent cities? Remember overwork? Police brutality? Surveillance up the ass? Having to walk like a fucken citizen of Orwell's Oceania?

Crime problems have nothing to do with race. Unless you think everybody in Africa is a criminal. A black scientist, doctor, broker or banker who is well off will not become a criminal. It is a matter of everybody having access to resources, forget about all the laundromat philosophy and pseudo-anthropology Randall and others here try to display as deep. Well it's not. The matter is a very simple one.

Even if it surprises you, criminals are people just like you and I. Yes, just like you and I, just wait long enough 'till you see how your retirement pension fund shrinks to the point you'll also want to become a criminal one day.

Polls show that Chinese are happier than Americans. Suicide rate is way lower in China, to start with. Remember that there are other barometers to measure happiness, like free time, closeness with your loved ones, family unit, real quality time now inexistent, real social solidarity not just fake smiles greeting you in the next Starbucks. Things Americans have become too dull to see or to remember.

Egalitarianism is the basis for a healthy society and the U.S. used to have it, but has now lost it because Americans have grown too mentally bourgeoise. Egalitarianism doesn't mean that we should all be equal, but that we should all have the same opportunities and those start with free education for all who want to study and free medicare for all those who need it, whether you are a banker or a dish washer.

Sweden, France, Denmark, Finland, Norway, all countries with Social-Democrat traditions and egalitarian mentality. They live better and happier than Americans do. But some are just too goddamn slow, fanatic and dogmatic. Specially dogmatic.

Check it out said at September 23, 2015 5:16 PM:

Humans turned into trading merchandize, disposable, that's what we Americans have become. There's good living for you.

Seth W. said at September 24, 2015 2:44 PM:

Brett has a point and clearly presents it with a good example. However, it seems to me that Jim and Randall confuse correlation with causation.

Jim said at September 25, 2015 5:01 AM:

To Check it out - Regarding "free medical care" in China. I work for a business which is Chinese-owned and employs many people from mainland China. A former co-worker of mine who came from northwest of Beijing near the Mongolian border (and was a graduate of the University of Beijing the moast prestigious university in China) told me once that upon coming to America he was utterly astonished by the American welfare system. He told me that in China if one needed medical care and could not afford it one looks to one relatives for whatever assistance they can provide but if they cannot contribute enough to pay for one's medical treatment one simply has to do without it.

My Chinese friend was also amazed by things like food stamps etc., the whole American welfare system. He said that there was nothing remotely like the American welfare system in China.

Crime rates all over the world vary strongly by race. People of East Asian descent have low crime rates not only in East Asia but wherever they emigrate to. Black populations all over the world show high rates of criminal behavior.
There is a strong genetic component to criminal and violent behavior.

Jim said at September 25, 2015 5:40 AM:

To Check it out - I think it is great that economic development in China has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people. But I think many Americans have a somewhat distorted idea of what China as a whole is like since Western reporters tend to be located in the most prosperous areas of China such as Beijing or Shanghai and the information available to them is controlled by the Chinese government. I've known many people from mainland China at work who often return to visit their parents or other family and they have told me that in rural China there are hundreds of millions of people "who have nothing". Also governmental corruption in China exists to an extent that few Americans can conceive of. Paying bribes is a universal practice to get any thing, however routine, done by a governmental official.

Don't confuse your left-wing ideology with reality.

Randall Parker said at September 26, 2015 6:53 PM:

Seth W.,

Some people are parasites because they lack abilities needed to do productive work. Not their fault in some cases. But still they are parasites.

Some people are parasites because they do not try.

Some people are parasites because they get off on preying on others, stealing, robbing. Prisons are full of such people.

I think it is valuable to measure how much various types of parasites are costing us because it looks like the total amount of parasitism is rising.

Randall Parker said at September 26, 2015 7:36 PM:

BTW, China does not have the "iron rice bowl" system of guaranteed jobs any more. China has big gaps in medical insurance coverage too. Don't have money? You aren't going to get treatment.

It is not hard to do web searches to check on what is true before making assertions that fit your preferred beliefs about what is true.

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