George Balderas' response (June 18) to my letter of June 4 failed to vindicate the long-since disproven liberal ideology of the ACLU, especially in the face of recent research.
Balderas complains about the high costs of constructing new jail facilities, yet he completely ignores the costs of allowing criminals to roam free on the streets.
As Assistant U.S. Atty. Gen. Richard Abell has pointed out, the average criminal costs society at least $430,000 in crime costs per year--costs to law-abiding citizens who are attacked, robbed, and victimized. Even assuming Balderas' high estimate of $30,000 per year to keep a criminal in jail, society saves $400,000 per inmate per year by keeping them out of our neighborhoods.
Balderas also mistakenly argues that jailing criminals only makes them more likely to become "hardened, lifelong criminals." A recent RAND Corp. study found that "the conclusion . . . that prison 'makes offenders worse' " ignores the fact that most prisoners, as opposed to probationers, "generally are more serious criminals and have more of the characteristics associated with recidivism." It is terribly naive to think that every single drug pusher and violent felon can be rehabilitated, and researchers agree.