California prison crowding injunction, cont’d

by Walter Olson on May 26, 2011

More reactions to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Brown v. Plata decision (earlier) from Scott Greenfield, Heather Mac Donald, and Eli Lehrer. Steven Greenhut explains how compensation for California prison guards came to take priority over facilities improvement; unionized prison employees’ role in lobbying for more draconian incarceration laws has also occasioned much outrage, from, among others, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote this week’s opinion. And (h/t Tyler Cowen) here is a 1995 paper by economist Steven Levitt finding (using numbers from that era) that “For each one-prisoner reduction induced by prison overcrowding litigation, the total number of crimes committed increases by approximately 15 per year. The social benefit from eliminating those 15 crimes is approximately $45,000; the annual per prisoner costs of incarceration are roughly $30,000.”

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1 Jesse Spurway 05.27.11 at 7:53 am

“a case whose proper outcome is so clearly indicated by tradition and common sense”
Remind me why folks think Supreme Court nominees need to be lawyers.

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