The Remeeder Houses in East New York make up one of the poorest blocks in Brooklyn. More than 50 percent of the project’s residents live below the poverty line. Unemployment is rampant. Run-down, overcrowded apartments are the norm. By another measure, though, this block is one of the priciest in the city, reports the Village Voice. Last year, five of its residents were sent to state prison, at an annual cost of about $30,000 a person. The total price tag for their incarceration will exceed $1 million.
Criminal-justice experts have a name for this phenomenon: “million-dollar blocks.” In Brooklyn last year, there were 35 such blocks. In recent years, as the U.S. prison population has soared, million-dollar blocks have popped up in cities across the country. Maps of prison spending suggest a new way of looking at this phenomenon, illustrating the often ignored reality that most prisoners come from just a handful of urban neighborhoods. Some wonder whether there are better way to spend those same criminal justice dollars.