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October 25, 2016

Latest USSC data suggest prison savings now exceeding $2 billion from "drugs -2" guideline amendment retroactivity

The US Sentencing Commission's website has this new data document titled simply "2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment Retroactivity Data Report." This report, dated October 2016, provides updated "information concerning motions for a reduced sentence pursuant to the retroactive application of Amendment 782. The data in this report reflects all motions decided through September 30, 2016, and for which court documentation was received, coded, and edited at the Commission by October 20, 2016."

The official data in the report indicate that, thanks to the USSC's decision to make Amendment 782, the so-called "drugs -2" guideline amendment, retroactive, now 29,391 federal prisoners have had their federal drug prison sentences reduced by an average of over two years. So, using my typical (conservative) estimate of each extra year of imprisonment for federal drug offenders costing on average $35,000, the USSC's decision to make its "drugs -2" guideline amendment retroactive so far appears to be on track to save federal taxpayers around $2.1 billion dollars.

As I have said before and will say again in this context, kudos to the US Sentencing Commission for providing evidence that at least some government bureaucrats inside the Beltway will sometimes vote to reduce the size and taxpayer costs of the federal government. Perhaps more importantly, especially as federal statutory sentencing reforms remained stalled in Congress and as Prez Obama continues to be relatively cautious in his use of his clemency power, this data provide still more evidence that the work of the US Sentencing Commission in particular, and of the federal judiciary in general, remains the most continuously important and consequential force influencing federal prison populations and sentencing outcomes.

October 25, 2016 at 01:34 PM | Permalink

Comments

"So, using my typical (conservative) estimate of each extra year of imprisonment for federal drug offenders costing on average $35,000, the USSC's decision to make its "drugs -2" guideline amendment retroactive so far appears to be on track to save federal taxpayers around $2.1 billion dollars."

I don't see how using average costs to determine actual cost savings (seems like marginal costs would be the better gauge since fixed overhead is important) is conservative. Additionally, your cost savings calculation does not measure the costs of the crimes committee by the releasees. Those costs are almost certainly not offset by the wages etc. earned by the releasees.

I'm sure you'll ignore this critique (or filibuster it), just like you ignored the terrible logic you displayed in equating the nevertrumpers with Obama's contesting of the 2008 Dem primary challenge to Clinton. Obama is endorsing her now. Hmmmmm, given Clinton's rank abuse of military members while Secretary of State (she told an Air Force sergeant who was doing a security sweep to "get that dog the F___ away from me"), one wonders whether the Commander-in-Chief, who tells us there is a sacred bond between the C-in-C and the troops would find Clinton's conduct out of bounds and be honor bound (as a matter of morality) to withhold his support.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 25, 2016 2:53:39 PM

Couple of quick responses, partisan federalist:

1. Your cost point is well taken, and if I could get a good number for "marginal cost," I would use it. That said, the reason I call this number "conservative" is because those who benefit from drugs -2 retroactivity are those federal prisoners who, on average, have longer sentences than other federal prisoners and thus will generally be (1) older than the average federal prisoner, and (2) confined in more secure (and thus more expensive) federal facilities because of the length of their original sentence. Older prisoners, as you know, are more likely to cost more than younger ones, due largely to increased health-care costs and other related expenses (see, e.g., http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2014/10/03/prison-population-continues-to-age --- a pew report explaining that "The National Institute of Corrections pegged the annual cost of incarcerating prisoners 55 and older with chronic and terminal illnesses at, on average, two to three times that of the expense for all other inmates, particularly younger ones. More recently, other researchers have found that the cost differential may be wider.")

2. In other words, I think it is possible (though not likely) that the "marginal cost" of having the longest-serving/oldest population of federal prisoners serve two more years may be even greater than the average cost of average federal prisoners serving two more years. That said, your point about the considerable challenge of just measuring the "prison savings" in this context is a sound one. I would not have to do this kind of back-of-the-envelop calculations if the US Sentencing Commission and/or BOP and/or CBO and/or some other official entity with a better way to get the numbers would do it. If you are aware of any better "running" of these "prison savings" numbers, I am eager to see it and post it.

3. As the title of this post is meant to make clear, partisan federalist, my post is only about "suggest[ed] prison savings" not about the full costs/benefits (whether economic or otherwise) that might flow from reduced federal drug sentences for current federal prisoners. A full accounting of all related/potential economic costs would have to consider, e.g., the paperwork/court expenses involved in recalculating so many sentences, some estimation of whether total crimes "committed by the releases" are likely to go up or down as a result of the reduced sentence --- e.g., the USSC calculated that recidivism was slightly lower over a five-year period for those released early under prior crack reductions, suggesting at least the possibility that early releases may actually REDUCE future crimes (and thus the costs). Relatedly, as you know, there is data showing less crowded prisons lead to less hardened criminals, which in turn means that a big reduction in the overall federal prison population from these early releases might also reduce recidivism over time. And on and on and on. Because these calculations get more and more complicated and contestable, I have confined myself here to only the "prison savings" suggested by the latest USSC data.

4. I am eager to hear, partisan federalist, if you consider this response an effort to "ignore [your] critique (or filibuster it)." I consider it an adequate (though only partial) response, which in turn demonstrates how you are wrong yet again as to what you are "sure" about. And, of course, your bizarre decision to finish your comment by bash on Obama and Clinton demonstrates how, as a partisan, you look for any opportunity you can find to bash on Dems even if doing so has absolutely nothing to do with the main post. It is for that reason I have decided to refer to you as "partisan federalist" in my responses if/when you choose fill them up with off-topic partisan commentary.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 25, 2016 5:08:52 PM

Hmmm lessee---to get to a "conservative" estimate we use average costs vs. marginal costs and we don't take into consideration the actual crimes committed by the releasees. That sounds more like propaganda to me.

I chuckle at the "partisan federalist"--I am not the one using "average costs" to tout "cost savings" in support of a policy position that I favor. I think you'll struggle hard to find anything I've ever said about any Democrat that is remotely unfair. But I can point to something you've said about a GOP pol that is unfair---you criticized Palin for her strong denunciation of Obama's ties to the Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers--yet what she said was true. And of course, you can't admit that, so you ignore it.


Posted by: federalist | Oct 25, 2016 7:19:35 PM

I know you can read, partisan federalist, but it seems you keep wanting to ignore that this post is about "prison savings" and "prison costs" not all the other savings or costs that may or may not result from releases after the retroactive application of reduced drug guidelines. (You also ignore my statement that I would readily use marginal costs if that number was readily available.)

Perhaps you have become inflicted by a kind of Trump-era partisan fever, partisan federalist, as now you are yammering off-topic about Palin after your prior off-topic yammering about Obama and Hillary. You are right that I am ignoring, partisan federalist, your off-topic partisan yammering because I am not interested in off-topic debates with a partisan like you in this particular forum.

Because I have always happily provided an open forum for silly yammering from folks like Supremecy Clause, I will not prevent you from continuing your off-topic partisan yammering, partisan federalist. (Indeed, I am now kind of enjoying how you are trying to turn partisan pivoting into a kind of performance art.) But unless other readers indicate they they are interested in your off-topic partisan yammering, I hope you will find other fora for it. (You are always welcome to send me an email, partisan federalist, to continue your partisan rants if they help soothe your partisan fever, and we can keep going in a prior post where your artistic partisan pivoting is already on full display.)

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 25, 2016 8:39:00 PM

Doug, your disclaimers don't obviate the sophistry.

And as for Palin, you were the one who brought her up, not me. And you were wrong about what you said.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 25, 2016 10:21:46 PM

The word "sophistry" means "the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving." I am not here, partisan federalist, making an argument or intending to deceive. Rather, I am simply seeking to provide a rough accounting, based on available data, of the "prison savings" that this guideline's retroactivity appears to be providing to federal taxpayers.

(In this space, only the roughest of accounting is really possible, because lengthy reports have been written with lots of complicated caveats/accounting on this issue. See, e.g., "The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers": https://www.vera.org/publications/the-price-of-prisons-what-incarceration-costs-taxpayers;
"Apples-to-Fish: Public and Private Prison Cost Comparisons": https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2016/oct/3/apples-fish-public-and-private-prison-cost-comparisons/. That said, all accountings and reports I have seen reinforce what I explained before, namely that the costs of older prisoners and those held in more secure prisoners cost more --- often much more --- than the "average" prisoner.)

I am neither intending to or wanting to "deceive" --- if you or others can provide more accurate cost data for a rough accounting of "prison savings," I would readily and happily revise/update my post. In addition, I do not question or dispute the obvious reality that all sort of other possible costs and benefits are important in making a broader assessment of (or "argument" about) the virtues and vices of releases based on guideline retroactive sentence modifications.

As for Palin, partisan federalist, I did bring her up in a different thread, and we can talk about her more there if you so desire. But I do not want to here "feed a troll" now that you are seemingly committed to partisan pivoting just for sport.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 25, 2016 11:08:56 PM

You're telling one side of the story and using weak methodology (average costs)---that's sophistry Doug. Your qualification about federal taxpayers isn't enough.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 25, 2016 11:38:06 PM

No, federalist, I am telling the whole story of "suggested prison savings" using the best available simple data to provide a rough estimate of saved federal taxpayer expenses from reduced federal prison sentences.

I surmise you want to focus on a different story about a different issue (crime costs) using different numbers, and you are welcome to use this space to tell a whatever different story you want to tell. (And we all might learn something useful from your accounting of some different story about a different issue using different numbers. And if you do try to contribute constructively, I will not falsely or foolishly accuse you of "sophistry" as long as you do what I have done.)

Long story short, partisan federalist, your criticisms in the form of "hey, talk more about just the stuff I want to talk about" really does not help advance a thoughtful and informative conversation. Instead, try just adding constructively whatever you think ought also be part of the discussion.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 26, 2016 12:03:59 AM

Ha ha Doug--remember, you said my point was well-taken.

You'll note, of course, that I've often said that a prison bed is a scarce resource, and I don't full-bore criticize the fact of Obama's clemencies (I do criticize the less-than forthright spinning though.) I believe in a harsh criminal regime, and that necessarily requires us to consider whether sentences were overly harsh as a class or in individual cases. But here, you're touting the release of well over 20,000 criminals who have a high rate of recidivism as saving money, when the cost savings merely, to a large extent, involve shifting the centers of those costs.

This $2.1BB is happy-talk. And, in my view, it merits strong criticism.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 9:56:54 AM

Oh, and I have to laugh at your position that average cost is good because there's nothing else . . . .

Face it, you want to prop up the idea that releasing 20K criminals is good so you'll clown yourself for the team.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 10:01:14 AM

And I'll troll with this one:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161020/00271735843/arrested-backpage-execs-ask-kamala-harris-to-drop-bogus-case-she-herself-has-admitted-she-has-no-authority-to-bring.shtml

Looks like she's as bad as Coakley.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 10:45:08 AM

Federalist: The Sentencing Commission has studied the crack offenders who got relief under the initial amendments. Their recidivism rates were no higher than those who served their full sentence. http://www.ussc.gov/research/research-publications/recidivism-among-offenders-receiving-retroactive-sentence-reductions-2007-crack-cocaine-amendment

Chew on those facts.

Posted by: defendergirl | Oct 26, 2016 11:58:26 AM

defendergirl, I have--releasing them accelerates the cost associated with future criminality, which takes resources away from "newer" criminals and their crimes. All things being equal, society is better off if the X number of crimes committed by releasees are committed in 2020 rather than 2018.

And since criminal behavior tends to be reduced in terms of severity as criminals age, the recidivism we do have is likely to be less severe--obviously, it's impossible to point to one particular criminal, but when you release tens of thousands, there will be an impact.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 12:43:40 PM

Even a broken partisan clock is right twice a day, partisan federalist, so do not take too much pride in the fact that I noted that "average cost" for a prison year is a less-than-ideal way to measure PRISON savings. Moreover, you undermine the soundness of what you say when you thereafter falsely accuse me of trying to "prop up the idea that releasing 20K criminals is good." (For the record, the number is much closer to 30K resulting from drugs -2 retroactivity.)

What I am trying to do is put a rough economic number on the "suggested PRISON savings" that result from the drug -2 retroactivity sentencing data reported by the USSC. (You also show your partisanship by now engaging in off-topic bashing of Kamala Harris and Coakley, but I am going to keep trying to ignore your off-topic partisan yammering.)

For clarity, partisan federalist, I hope you will answer these questions:

1. Do you think "PRISON cost/savings" is at least one appropriate consideration when considering what makes for "good" criminal justice policies? (As a utilitarian and taxpayer, I think this is one of the most important considerations, but for now I am seeking only an answer from you as to whether you think "PRISON cost/savings" is "at least one appropriate consideration")

2. If you think it is, can you provide for me your own precise accounting of how that number should be assessed/calculated in light of this USSC data, given that you criticize $2.1BB as just "happy-talk"? What number do you suggest is "accurate talk" concerning "PRISON cost/savings" rather than just "happy-talk"?

Perhaps later we can discuss CRIME cost/savings, which I do think is also an appropriate distinct consideration. But for now, I just want to better understand your "strong criticism" of my "happy-talk." Specifically, I am trying to understand if you mean to say "PRISON cost/savings" is not even an appropriate concern or whether you think a much different number for "PRISON cost/savings" should be calculated here.

And, though this may be asking too much, I hope you can answer my two questions without too much off-topic partisan yammering.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 26, 2016 3:40:38 PM

Well, Doug, I forthrightly admitted the trolling--it was kind of tongue in cheek--although I wonder what it says about your commitment to freedom when a Senate candidate's appalling abuse of power goes uncommented upon. My guess is the fact that she has a "D" after her name accounts for your silence.

In any event, I'll respond later to your questions.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 26, 2016 4:28:11 PM

partisan federalist, if I spent any real time trying to track and comment on just some of the "appalling abuse of power" by state prosecutors and other state government officials --- whether Ds or Rs --- who administer criminal justice systems in service to big-govt interests, I would not have any time to comment on anything else. (And, of course, I would be blogging a whole lot about asset forfeiture and all sort of other power-abusing realities that are daily events in far too many US jurisdictions.)

And, on the topic of California prosecutors going too far, you should at some point realize that the Plata case and outcome was 100% a result of the reality that so many of the Ds (and Rs) that administer California's criminal justice system have, it would seem, a genetic disposition to abuse their powers and to trample the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals along the way.

In addition, you show yet again you partisan nature, partisan federalist, by only calling out (D) Kamala Harris and not her partner (R) Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who is also a subject of "techdirt" concerns/criticisms. AG Paxton's campaign website, notably, makes much of the fact that the US "was founded on an idea – that of individual liberty." So it seems he, as one who ran to promote individual liberty, merits your criticism more than me, no? The again, he is being sue by the SEC for fraud, so I suppose we ought to cut him a break for now. Oh darn, I am now caught up in your off-topic partisan yammering, partisan federalist. It is sometime so hard not to feed the trolls.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 26, 2016 5:08:47 PM

Thanks for pointing out re: Paxton. He's not running for Senate, but AGs should NOT abuse their power at all.

As for Plata, so what? In a prison system that big, there are going to be violations. Am I supposed to take that reality and whine? Now, there were reports of gladiator games at Cali prisons, and other egregious violations--I don't condone those--but if you expect me to get aghast at California prisons pre-Plata, sorry, barking up the wrong tree.

Doug, of course, I feel that prison costs (as well as lost opportunity costs) are something that should be taken into account when determining a sentencing regime. But my approach is more normative--certain criminals "need" to be punished, and it doesn't matter if it breaks the bank because we have too many of them. For example, aliens deported for violent crime showing up here after deportation--don't care if it costs $35K per year in marginal costs to lock them up for 20 years--lock them up. I think also that your focus on easily quantifiable cost savings (and it's easy to multiply 30k by $35K per year by two years) obscures the costs imposed on society when we let criminals go, don't lock them up in the first place or give them too lenient sentences. See, e.g., Komisarjevsky.

As for the second question--no, I don't know what the marginal cost per prisoner is. But so what? Just because I can't provide a better calculation doesn't buttress yours. Yours is happy talk, and it obscures a lot of hidden costs. You know this, of course. And my criticism of your "happy talk" isn't diminished because I don't know the more accurate number (marginal costs) to use to determine cost savings.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 27, 2016 11:09:59 AM

partisan federalist,

1. My mention of Plata was to highlight that, if I were to spend my time commenting on prosecutors who abuse their power, I'd not have time to blog about anything other than Cal prosecutors. (For example, Cal prosecutor recently responded to a rapist turning down plea offers of 13 and 22 years by going into court requesting 1503 years. That sure seems like an abuse of power, and a kind I fear that is darn common in Cal --- which, in turn, explains how we got the problems that lead to the Plata decision).

2. Couple of follow-up questions on your "normative" point:

A. Can we put any kind of "price tag" or reasonable "number," partisan federalist, on the benefits of punishing those criminals who "need" to be punished? Or is this just a "feeling" and one that justifies "break[ing] the bank" no matter what? If I feel all drunk drivers normatively "need" to be punished with, say, 1 year in prison, is it fair for you to note and calculate that, based on a average national prison cost of $30K and average yearly DD arrests of 1.5 million, that my view of who needs to be punished this way would cost taxpayers roughly $45 billion?

B. When you say that certain criminals "need" to be punished, are you including all persons who traffic in federally prohibited drugs? For example, do you think those folks now selling medical marijuana in many states are among those who "need" to be punished even if it "breaks the bank"? I ask this question because, as you should know (but I suspect you do not), at least some of the folks who got reduced sentences thanks to the drugs -2 guideline change included folks who were prosecuted and given long sentences during the Bush years for selling medical marijuana in California.

3. My calculation is an effort to put a number on something so that feelings about when we "need" to "break the bank" are not the only focal point of discussions. I understand if you dislike a price tag put on your feelings, but that is what government policy debates always necessarily implicate even if you urge folks to ignore the real costs to taxpayers of giving effect to your feelings. That said, I also believe the costs of crime and other economic and human costs should also be part of the discussion. But that reality does not turn basic discussion of the costs of prison to taxpayers into "happy talk."

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 27, 2016 5:36:58 PM

I'm a little late to the game here, but it should be pointed out that while Doug may have overestimated savings by using average rather than marginal cost (even though that is somewhat mitigated by, as he pointed out, that long sentences result in an older inmates with greater health needs), he also drastically underestimated savings by not taking into account the new prisons that will not be built.

Posted by: ADC Wonk | Oct 27, 2016 7:35:07 PM

1. I hardly think that someone who abused his own daughter for years (something, of course, euphemized by someone here as a "course of conduct") getting an effective LWOP sentence represents an "abuse of power."

2A. Dumb hypo. But yes, incarceration costs are important. So what? Said so earlier--and "break the bank" is obviously a bit of hyperbole.

2B. No. I am not. Next question.

3. Doug, when you talk in terms of "cost savings" without looking at the downsides, you're engaging in happy talk. Seems like something from this thread---and ill-thought out critique: http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2009/02/the-inane-and-insane-realities-of-federal-feloninpossession-prosecutions-and-sentencings.html

Posted by: federalist | Oct 28, 2016 11:43:45 AM

1. Why isn't, partisan federalist, asking for a sentence that is, at least, 1400 years LONGER than an effective LWOP sentence an "abuse of power"? Power is not just about outcomes but also about how one deploys a process. And, in my opinion, it is abusive (and corrosive to the rule of law) to ask for a sentence 1400 years LONGER than necessary (especially after being willing to take a plea to a sentence of mere 13 years for the same conduct).

2A. Why is my hypo dumb, partisan federalist? I surmise you think many federal drug offenders, save some marijuana dealers, "need" to be punished with long prison terms. (And I wrong about that?) Because I consider drunk drivers a MUCH bigger threat to my own safety and those of many family, I believe that drunk drivers need to be punished with short prison terms. And I use the drunk driver hypo specifically because the "costs of the crimes committeed" by repeat drunk driver are enormous (costing many more lives every year than will released federal drug offenders).

It often seem you think it obvious that all federal drug offenders are worse than drunk drivers, but drunk drivers kill and hurt many, many more people than federal drug offenders. Plus, at least some federal drug offenders (e.g., those that sell medical marijuana) are often trying to help their fellow man. I hope you will address the hypo, because your eagerness to focus on "cost of crime" rather than "cost of prison" is exactly why I chose costly drunk drivers as my example.

2B. So you do not think federal criminals selling medical marijuana in compliance with state law need to be punished. How about federal criminals like Edward Young convicted of federal ammo possession which was legal under his state law? Can you give me a list of which federal offenders you do not think "need" to be punished, because maybe we can work together to get those folks out early and then debate whether others should get out early.

3. When I talk about "PRISON savings" (please re-read the title of this post), I am OBVIOUSLY only talking about PRISON costs, not all costs. That should be obvious to you and everyone else, but apparently you continue to struggle with this plain reality. Are you having a hard time reading, partisan federalist, blinded by your partisan perspective? Is it really too much to ask that you actually read what I say rather than attack me for what you wrongly think I am saying?

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 28, 2016 3:16:04 PM

1. when people can serve 1503 years in prison, come talk to me. He was willing to take 13--well, plea bargains don't always reflect what the prosecution feels is just--it could be a discount to save the victim from having to testify.

Do you have any idea how silly it is to speak of a 1503 year sentence in terms of being any different, as a practical matter, than LWOP? And is LWOP such a horrible outcome for some guy who raped his daughter over the course of years?

2A. It's a dumb hypo because it's not realistic. There isn't the support to lock up every DD. But yes, there are classes of drug offenders that need to go bye-bye--heroin smugglers for example. Moreover, Doug, your analysis is kinda silly--yes, drunk drivers collectively kill more people, but most drunk drivers never do--serious drug dealers (particularly heroin) profit of the misery (and harm) to others. You routinely ignore this serious flaw in your reasoning.

2B. So what? If you're only talking about prison savings (in which case, your average costs thing is really dumb), then you're not talking about much, in which case you're just hoping that people will think prison savings = real savings.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 28, 2016 4:01:44 PM

1. Please try to be informed, partisan fed, as the prosecutor in the child rape case is a woman. And I think what is silly (and abusive) is seeking 1503 years in prison.

2A. The public also does not support long sentences for all drug dealers, pf, and that is why Congress did not reject drug guideline retroactivity. Also, tobacco companies and big Pharma and gun manufacturers profit from selling product that kill and cause misery for many users, but we do not criminalize the sellers for harms by users. In contrast, drunk drivers cause direct harms without intermediaries. That is why I think drunk drivers "need" to be punished more. You may disagree, but what matters here is whether the cost of punishment for my feelings or yours should be considered in the debate. You agree the cost is relevant but then attack me for calculating this cost. Again, your partisan vision clouds your mind.

2B. I agree I am only talking about a small issue of PRISON savings, ergo the clear title of this post. Dense and partisan, you attack based on a fsilure to read and understand what my words make plain. Again, it seems, you are blinded, or made dense, by your partisan perspective.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 28, 2016 7:58:40 PM

Whatever, Doug.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 29, 2016 7:39:43 PM

Wow, federalist, you use the same exact word as my kids when giving up on a conversation after realizing a silly position is no longer even worth trying to defend. ;-)

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 29, 2016 8:23:31 PM

In this case, it's that you comments are too silly to respond to. If average costs aren't a good measure, then why bother using them in the first place, and if measures to decrease prison costs increase other costs, then what's the point of telling less than half the story.

It's sophistry in action--a lack of context, a contentiously used statistic all to buttress your position that prison sentences are too long, and gee whiz, if we let people go, we'll save money. Then when called out, you get into a definitional debate. That's where the "whatever" came from.

Even if you're right about this little tete-a-tete, so what? To win that argument, you concede your post was meaningless. So, I win even if I lose.

Jeez, using average costs versus marginal costs. You might as well have said that the prisons saved $2.1BB in monopoly money.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 31, 2016 9:17:03 AM

federalist, I never said "average costs aren't a good measure" of PRISON savings, I just said it would be better to have a "marginal" cost number to do this calculation to be even more accurate. I asked if you (or others) could provide a better number for a better calculation. You did not provide a better number, so I have no basis to amend my post because I used the best available number for calculating the suggested prison savings of the drug -2 guideline retroactivity decision.

What kind of "context" do you think is lacking, federalist? The post is about suggested federal PRISON savings from the reduction of nearly 30,000 federal prison sentences. I explained my methodology for this calculation. What additional "context" do you think is needed? And I am not getting into any "definitional debate," but rather trying to explain to you why your criticisms are so misguided when the post is only about suggested PRISON savings.

If my post was "meaningless," you seem to be working awfully hard to dispute it. Dare I suggest that all your comments in this thread are evidence that you think it anything but meaningless that shortening federal drug sentences may be saving taxpayers $2.1BB in prison costs.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 31, 2016 4:43:48 PM

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