New Report Shows Alternatives to Prison and Jail for Nonserious Offenses Could Result in Cost Savings for the US of Almost $10 Billion

Jan 20, 2010, 06:28 ET from National Council on Crime and Delinquency

See Report at New NCCD Website:

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) has just released a new report, The Extravagance of Imprisonment Revisited, on the cost savings to be realized from using alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenses. According to the report, the nation could save $9.7 billion by utilizing these alternatives. The report also calculated potential cost savings for four of the most populous states: California could save at least $1.4 billion, Texas $2.4 billion, New York $1.1 billion, and Florida $271 million. Beyond these initial savings, the report shows there would be ongoing and significant annual cost savings to be realized by using alternatives to incarceration.


As of 2008, approximately 414,000 men and women in the US were incarcerated for nonviolent, nonsexual crimes not involving significant property loss. The vast majority of these prisoners could be eligible for effective and cost-saving sanctions such as drug courts, drug treatment, electronic monitoring, or work release programs. These alternatives to prison and jail are currently in use in the four selected states and elsewhere, have been proven effective (see report for extensive references), and could be promptly expanded. The costs and operations of the alternatives are well documented – and served as a basis for the report's cost comparison. These costs were compared to the current costs of incarceration for 80% of the likely eligible incarcerated population.

Potential Cost Savings for 80% of Nonserious Offenders




New York


Current expenditure

$12.9 billion

$1.5 billion

$399 million

$1.8 billion

$2.8 billion

Cost of alternatives

$3.2 billion

$120 million

$128 million

$692 million

$433 million

Potential savings

$9.7 billion

$1.4 billion

$271 million

$1.1 billion

$2.4 billion

This report is available on the new NCCD website at:

SOURCE National Council on Crime and Delinquency