Nick Kristoff’s characteristically thought-provoking column begins by telling the story of a man who got life imprisonment for stealing a pair of socks (as a result of the three-strikes-and-you’re-out law) and then notes that California will spend roughly $49,000 per year to keep the sock thief behind bars. Kristoff notes:

“The United States incarcerates people at nearly five times the world average. Of those sentenced to state prisons, 82 percent were convicted of nonviolent crimes, according to one study.

California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system. In contrast, it spends only $8,000 on each child attending the troubled Oakland public school system, according to the Urban Strategies Council.”
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