The Oklahoma Department of Corrections annual report states:
The 33 states that provided specific spending data reported spending as much as 22 times more per day to manage offenders in prisons than to supervise offenders in the community. The reported average offender in prison cost was $79 per day ($29,000 annual). Whereas, the average cost of managing an offender in the community ranged from $3.42 per day for probationers to $7.47 per day for parolees (about $1,250 to $2,750
In a state with as many financial troubles as Oklahoma, it is hard to comprehend why the Oklahoma legislature does not understand, or perhaps does not believe, that they can get elected on the platform that the cost of prevention and alternatives to incarceration are far less taxing on Oklahoma's economy both fiscally and societally. Thus, solutions like increasing funding to mental health programs and statutorily treating nonviolent crimes less harshly could have a positive impact on both incarceration and the economy. Oklahoma should not allow the old façade of being tough on crime stand in the way of necessary change. If solutions fall on deaf ears in the legislature, change will be hard and Oklahoma will continue to be number one in this unsavory category and pay an ever-increasing economic and human cost.
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