Put a Price on Justice

Cheryl Lero Jonson, Xavier University - Cincinnati
John E. Eck, University of Cincinnati - Main Campus
Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati - Main Campus

Conference title: Criminology at the Intersections of Oppressio


The dollar cost of sentencing an offender to an additional day in confinement is zero, so prosecutors and judges over use criminal sanctions. We should put some form of price on sentences. A) The state caps the number of prison days a county court can spend every year. Caps are set on the basis of county population. The sum of county caps can be set to be lower than the current prison usage. B) Like A, but the counties can sell unused prison days to counties who need more (i.e., cap and trade). C) The state’s correctional budget allocated to counties on a per capita basis. Counties can spend this money on anything they find useful. But every prison-day must be paid for by the counties (i.e., like paying for a hotel room). Judges, in each option, have broad discretion in sentences.