Incarceration – vs – Prevention – By: Larry Lawton

I get asked the question of why is prevention better then incarceration? At first, I couldn’t believe someone would ask that question, but after some thought, I realized it is a valid question coming from a person who doesn’t understand the cost of incarceration. 

First, let me give you the latest statistics.  The United States is the most incarcerated country in the world.  It cost approximately $30,000 a year to house one inmate.  The cost to incarcerate a juvenile range from $55,000 to $150,000.  If that isn’t an eye-opener to anyone who thinks incarceration is the answer, look at this, the cost of incarceration in the United States exceeds $1 trillion dollars, or six percent of gross domestic product. That number is mind-boggling.  

Now, let’s look at prevention. It costs $30,000 a year to house one inmate and the average length of incarceration is four years, that is $120,000 per inmate. If we can PREVENT the incarceration of just ten people, we would save 1.2 million. Keep multiplying that and you will quickly see that prevention is the answer.

Whatever programs we use, whether it is the Boys and Girls Clubs, PAL Organizations, Faith Based Programs, etc. are worth trying. Look at the Reality Check Program. Let’s say it cost $50,000 for 10,000 Reality Check Program video cards and we prevented just ten people from committing a crime and going to prison, we would save the taxpayers 1.15 million dollars. Numbers alone justify Prevention over Incarceration. The Reality Check Program has quantitative data on the success of keeping young people from getting arrested. (See QA)

Let’s address the compassion side to this. I ask you, who of us is perfect? I know I’m not. We all know people who made mistakes, but the greatest part of the United States is that we believe in second chances. The President of the United States just yesterday held a press conference and praised a new criminal justice reform bill giving felons a second chance.

Second chances do work. Myself and many other ex-felons are productive members of society and helping people every day.

To answer the question, Incarceration – vs – Prevention, it’s prevention hands down.

Larry Lawton – Wikipedia

About the author: Larry Lawton is an Author, TV Personality, Speaker, Teen/Young Adult Expert and Law Enforcement Consultant. Larry developed the nationally recognized Reality Check Program and Reality Check Video Card Program.

Larry Lawton appears regularly on national TV and Radio as an expert on teen issues, crime, schools and community policing. ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC  —  CLICK HERE to see Larry on TV

In August of 2013, Larry was the first ex-con in the United States to be sworn in as an Honorary Police Officer in the city of Lake Saint Louis, Missouri and in November 2013, Larry was the first ex-con recognized on the Floor of the United States Congress for his work with helping young people and law enforcement agencies.

Contact Larry for availability and cost at 844-922-4800 or