We all know the punishment should fit the crime, but what if the punishment costs too much? Along with sentencing guidelines and legal statutes, Missouri judges now have state-supplied information on the bottom line of what various sentencing scenarios will cost. They'd know, for instance, that a three-year sentence for child endangerment would cost $37,000, whereas probation would cost less than $7000, reports the New York Times.
The new policy is a hit with some fiscal conservatives and with defense attorneys keen to see the state find alternatives to incarceration. But critics, particularly prosecutors, say the program overlooks the broader social costs of crime. “Justice isn’t subject to a mathematical formula,” says one prosecutor. Adds a National District Attorneys Association rep: "No one can put a price tag on being a victim." Click here to read about the politics of crack sentencing.