There are moments when discussing with people the issue of how to handle criminals, I must admit to being confused at normal reactions to crime. I am discussing crime that does not involve guns, that does not place anyone at physical threat, and certainly not sexual crime. Former Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for political crime. As far as I can tell, no one was murdered, no one was hurt. Yes, many lost money or their jobs.
So, how to handle such crime?
1. Each year in prison costs about $40,000 a year. So Rod in jail will cost the taxpayers about $500,000. I suspect that after two years in jail, Rod wishes he had not done those crimes. How about three years working with the elderly or working with children? At least society is getting some payback for the crimes he committed.
2. If there is no physical harm then sending someone to jail makes no sense. Why spend the money? Of course, if the goal is “revenge” it makes sense to send them to prison. But, shouldn’t the goal be rehabilitation? Why waste society resources rather than gaining resources from those who commit crime?
Reality: for most white collar crime, going to prison only teaches them how to commit more crimes!