Wasting Money, Wasting Lives: Calculating the Hidden Costs of Incarceration in New Jersey

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May 28, 2008
Kleykamp, Meredith, et al.
Drug Policy Alliance

This report is the first-ever analysis of the hidden and comprehensive costs of incarceration in New Jersey.  In addition to the cost of prison beds (the usual measure of incarceration costs), the report examines hidden costs such as lost wages during the time people are incarcerated, lost lifetime wages that result from diminished employment opportunities, lost taxable income, and lost child support. At a time when the state is facing severe budget deficits and cutting critical social programs and services, the report finds that the state is losing literally billions of dollars in direct and hidden costs as a result of the harsh and ineffective overuse of incarceration.  The report looks at costs state-wide and also provides a snapshot of costs for New Jersey’s largest city, Newark.

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