Prison Vacancy Rates Rising?

By now, even William Bennett must know that crime rates are dropping. The latest twist on this unanticipated disappointment for the good deportment business brings even more bad news: According to the Justice Policy Institute, violent crime fell 4.6% in the 37 states that have yet to implement a "three-strikes" law, but only 1.7% in the 13 states that have adopted such a policy. And isn't that the problem with criminals, really? They're so unpredictable.

Not that the fast-growing prison industry is going to let their failed frequent flier program inhibit their plans for growth at all. Even with long-term occupancy rates lower than projected, and ongoing maintenance costs threatening to overwhelm state budgets, building new prisons is just as lucrative as ever. In 1995 alone, states increased their spending on prison construction by over $900 million.

-- G. Beato

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