$30 Billion Federal Incarceration Costs Exceeds GDP of Many Nations


As the new federal budget rolls out, Ohio State University law Prof. Douglas Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy Blog quotes sentencing expert Mark Allenbaugh’s analysis of recent data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Since 2005, Allenbaugh says the federal government has spent nearly $30 billion on incarceration, higher than the Gross Domestic Product of many nations including North Korea. Of this, Allenbaugh says more than $2 billion was spent on incarcerating child pornography offenders; 12,115 have been sentenced since 2006. More than four times as many people have been sentenced for fraud but their incarceration cost is almost a billion dollars less because of high sentences in child porn cases. Allenbaugh says, “Fraud is comparatively cheap because a substantial number do not receive any term of incarceration, and those that do often serve less than a year. Sentences for child porn, Allenbaugh contends, are “obscenely out of whack.”

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