May 24, 2004
Cause and Effect
Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.\"\;
In Salt Lake County, the jail continues to suffer from chronic overcrowding despite the fact the crime rate has declined.
Yes, they do go on to say:
Certainly, it is fair to argue that crime rates are declining in part because cities and the county are willing to lock people away for long periods of time. But the lock-'em-up theory of public safety has its limits, both physical and logical.
On the physical side, taxpayers aren't ready to keep building and operating jails, nor are they likely to be any time soon. Right now, a tenth of all county revenues go toward the criminal justice system. That is about enough.
On the logical side, it makes little sense to lock up someone who is criminally delinquent on paying a fine when the cost of a first day in jail is often well over $100. Nor does it make sense to put someone in a highly secure environment who does not pose a risk to the safety of others. Instead that person could be put to work doing menial tasks and housed in a minimum-security environment that is far less expensive than a jail.
As a service to the editors of Deseret News, I present this tutorial on how to link cause and effect.