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The High Cost of Cheap Prisons

Starting in the early 2000s, a bipartisan consensus emerged around the untenable price tag of mass imprisonment. Twenty years later, this left-right consensus has hardly made a dent in the US prison population. Instead, an austerity-driven approach to criminal justice reform has led to reductions in basic services inside prisons and jails, ultimately shifting the cost of such services onto the incarcerated and their families. Interviews with sixty formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, as well as some of their family members, brings to light the true cost of the commercialization of the criminal legal system.