Nearly $10 billion in tax money could be saved by using alternatives to incarceration, the National Council of Crime and Delinquency estimates. A new report calculates potential cost savings in four populous states: California could save $1.4 billion, Texas $2.4 billion, New York $1.1 billion, and Florida $271 million. The council contends that as of 2008, 414,000 U.S. men and women were incarcerated for nonviolent, nonsexual crimes not involving significant property loss.
Most of these prisoners could be eligible for effective and cost-saving sanctions such as drug courts, drug treatment, electronic monitoring, or work release programs. These alternatives to prison and jail have been proved effective and could be promptly expanded, NCCD maintains. The costs and operations of the alternatives are well documented – and served as a basis for the report's cost comparison. These costs were compared to the current costs of incarceration for 80 percent of the likely eligible incarcerated population.