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May 26, 2021

"Reducing Mass Incarceration Through Cost Salience: Why Juries Should Be Told the Cost of Incarceration"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper authored by Michael Conklin now availabe via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

The practice in Missouri of informing judges of incarceration costs resulted in reductions to both mass incarceration and recidivism.  States that allow jury sentencing are ideal for allowing jurors to also consider incarceration costs.  The need for such common-sense reform is timely.  COVID-19 has drastically reduced state budgets and there is widespread agreement that the criminal justice system over-punishes.  This results in rare, bipartisan support for criminal justice reform. Jury incarceration-cost salience is also a more palatable method for reform among politicians who fear being labeled “soft on crime.”

This Article presents the findings of a first-of-its-kind study, the results of which strongly support juror incarceration-cost salience.  This Article also includes analysis of the arguments for and against the practice. Such consideration results in a clear preference for juror incarceration-cost salience.  It would save valuable state resources that could then be invested into more productive programs, lead to a reduction in crime rates due to the criminogenic effect of incarceration, and would benefit not only incarcerated individuals but also their families and communities.  These benefits, combined with the promising results of this study and the near-perfect converging of political interests in favor of prison reform, all point to a climate that is ripe for such social change.

May 26, 2021 at 11:00 AM | Permalink


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