New York’s “shock” incarceration program, which allows selected felons to serve shorter, program-intensive sentences, has saved the state more than $1 billion since its 1987 debut, prison officials reported Tuesday. More than 31,200 prisoners have completed the state’s shock program. Since the programs shave time off prison sentences, officials estimate that New York saved $878 million in operating costs over that period, the Associated Press reported.
The state avoided another $126 million in capital construction costs because the program alleviated the need for new prison beds, according to the state Department of Correctional Services. New York runs shock programs at four sites for up to 2,820 nonviolent offenders a year. The six-month program includes military-style exercise, physical labor, academics and substance abuse treatment. The program, which can reduce minimum sentences by up to 30 months, is designed to build character and self-esteem. A third of shock graduates return to prison within three years of their release. That compares with a 40 percent recidivism rate among inmates who were eligible for shock but did not participate.