Reducing Wasteful Incarcerations

Prisons are essential to a safe and civil society. Prisons are also costly for the taxpayers whose government houses, feeds, medicates, and supervises millions of people under lock and key. This expense is compounded by errors in the U.S. legal system that produces both false guilty verdicts and overly harsh penalties. It’s time for the United States to take a closer look at these unnecessary incarcerations. By working to release prisoners who don’t belong in prison, we can lower the costs of the prison system—not to mention restore freedom to people who are wrongly being deprived of it. Unfortunately, it is difficult to identify which prisoners are wrongly incarcerated, and it would take an enormous investment of professional expertise and money to produce that information. However, we could make valuable progress on this issue by offering appropriate incentives for attorneys to identify some of these wasteful incarcerations, thus saving public money and serving the ends of liberty.

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