Krugman’s (again) column this week discusses the 50 “Hoovers” who are determined to cut spending despite the recession. This passage caught my attention:
These state-level cutbacks range from small acts of cruelty to giant acts of panic — from cuts in South Carolina’s juvenile justice program, which will force young offenders out of group homes and into prison, to the decision by a committee that manages California state spending to halt all construction outlays for six months.
Big mistake in terms of the economy (see the 1937 economic backslide, for example, when FDR tried to reduce the deficit), but specifically… South Carolina? What the hell are you thinking? The state has already slashed the juvenile justice budget by 20 percent with another 15 percent on the way — even though the rehabilitation program showed a 50 percent reduction in recidivism compared with prisons.
In other words, by shuffling more kids into the prison system, South Carolina is effectively tempting a 50 increase in repeat offenses. Then, a couple of years from now, South Carolinians (other states like Kentucky and Virginia, too) will be shaking their fists and crying, Why oh why are so many kids committing hard crimes?! Why oh why are our prisons so overcrowded?! Say nothing of the racial aspects to this.
And we’ll know exactlly why it happened.