A new report issued by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers says mass incarceration is a failure when it comes to preventing crime. The report also looks at several ways to lower the nation’s prison population, including raising the federal minimum wage and boosting the number of police officers across the country.
Raising the Minimum Wage
Currently, the federal minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour. States are not permitted to pay less than the federal minimum, however, many choose to pay more. The report says raising the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour would reduce crime rates by three to five percent. If the federal government raises the minimum wage, the states would also be required to raise their minimum wage rates to at least $12 per hour.
By contrast, the report says spending more money – to the tune of $10 billion – on maintaining prisons would lower the crime rate by just one to four percent.
More Police and Better Tech
The report claims the best way to reduce crime and lower the prison population would be to spend more money on police – both in numbers and technology. According to the report, the United States has 35 percent fewer police officers per population than other countries on average.
If the federal government spent an extra $10 billion on expanding police forces and providing new and better technology, the report says the government could expect to see crime rates fall by as much as 16 percent, which works out to 1.5 million crimes each year.
According to the economists and researchers who prepared the report, other possible ways to reduce crime include improved health care, an increase in early childhood education services, and better access to government-issued identification for recently released federal inmates.
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