Let’s Try Constructive Release to Diminish Mass Incarceration in America

Patrick Muller
5 min readJul 30, 2020
Free use Image by Hundefan from Pixabay.

Invitation: Incarceration is expensive and inhumane. Let’s look at an alternative using money that’s already earmarked for the prison system.


Prisons are big business in the United States of America.

According to Quora, around 2.3 million Americans are in prison. Add those in jail or under parole supervision and the number climbs to 6.9 million. Of our population of over 328 million, over 2% of Americans have been impacted by incarceration. According to U.S. News and World Report, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. There are 655 prisoners for every 100,000 people.

This isn’t an original comment but “Welcome to the Land of the Free.”

Prisons are expensive big business. The Equal Justice Initiative calculates $81 billion is spent on prisons, parole, probation, and jails. It gets worse. Much worse. The Prison Policy Initiative added policing and court costs and the additional expenses that families spend to provide support for their imprisoned family members and the costs explode to $182 billion!!!!

(How many exclamation points is enough?)

The Marshall Project looked at the budgetary pull on families of the incarcerated. One individual, supporting her ex-partner, spent $2,161 for a commissary fund, $3,586 for phone call charges, and $419 for email charges.

A recent Federal Register put the costs of imprisoning someone in a federal prison between $35,000-$40,000 annually. The State of California Legislative Analyst’s Office says it costs over $80,000 to care for an inmate in California’s system factoring in all expenses, including healthcare. This is an absolute drain on everyone.

One solution is for us to really look at who we are incarcerating and come up with other solutions.

Another solution is to greatly reconsider how we intervene in community issues in the first place.

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Patrick Muller

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