In a new assessment of research on the impact of incarceration levels on crime, the Vera Institute of Justice says that a 10 percent increase in imprisonment is associated with a 2-4 percent drop in crime. “Continued growth in incarceration will prevent considerably fewer, if any, crimes than past increases did and will cost taxpayers substantially more to achieve,” Vera says. The institute notes that othe factors, such as police numbers, unemploment, wage rates, and education may have more impact on crime rates.
Vera concludes that “by pursuing crime reduction chiefly through incarceration, states are forgoing the opportunity” to invest more in programs that deal with such factors as unemployment, poverty and illiteracy. “The impact of incarceration on crime is limited and diminishing,” Vera asserts. The study was written by Don Stemen, research director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections.