Estimates of the total social cost of crime vary widely depending on which costs are included. The chart above includes only the estimated savings due to a 40% reduction in recidivism. The $8 billion annual savings are based on reduced prison operating costs, reduced police and court costs, increased tax revenue, reduced welfare costs for families of offenders, and reduced victims' costs paid by taxpayers. It does not include costs of commercial crime, tax evasion, drug abuse and trafficking, or intangible costs resulting from loss of life, threat of force, psychological trauma, or fear of crime.
The direct savings in the U.S. as a result of implementing Transcendental Meditation program in the nation's prisons would be tens of billions of dollars per year. However, the major impact of crime in the nation is not merely financial. There is also the tragic damage, both psychological and physical, inflicted on the victims of crime and their families. Many are scarred for life. They cannot be adequately compensated by actions at law or through incarceration of offenders. The economic value of $9 billion indicated above only begins to describe the relief that will come with a significant reduction in violence and its trauma.
This year the United States will spend more than $100 billion at all levels of government for criminal justice activities.1 Direct and indirect costs of crime to individuals and to governments are difficult to evaluate precisely, but they have been estimated to be as much as three times this amount. Even if crime could be controlled by building additional prisons, state governments are financially unable to build and operate sufficient prison space to permanently segregate violent and repeat offenders.
Savings for taxpayers
Taxpayers could save a large portion of the $100 billion spent for criminal justice activities through the nationwide implementation of this effective rehabilitation program in jails and prisons, and for those offenders on probation and parole. The cost of such a nationwide program would certainly be significant--approximately $750 million per year for the first five years to train the five hundred thousand people convicted annually who are sent to prison.2 However, the taxpayers' cost for police, jails, courts, and prisons in our current revolving-door system is much higher. The cost of effective rehabilitation is incurred but once; the cost of repeated criminal activity may last a lifetime. While a forty to ninety percent reduction in recidivism among prison inmates would not reduce the $100 billion criminal justice bill by an identical percentage, an $8-15 billion annual savings could reasonably be expected as long as the program continued. Further, the stress created by the overload on all aspects of criminal justice would be significantly reduced.
Taxpayers pay the bill for many other aspects of crime, e.g., welfare costs for the family of an inmate and sometimes his victim, lost tax revenue from the inmate, and reduction or loss of economic productivity of victims. Reduced recidivism would produce direct savings in these areas.
Savings for victims
Victims of crime often suffer physical, psychological, and social problems. M. A. Cohen (Urban Studies 27(1): 139-146) estimated the cost of crime to the individual victim in terms of direct losses, pain and suffering, and risk of death. Cohen concluded that in 1985, on average, the cost to a rape victim was $51,058, and to robbery and aggravated assault victims, in excess of $12,000. The total cost to victims in 1985 was estimated to be in excess of $92 billion. Some crime victims continue to experience the effects of a crime many years after the event; some bear the scars of the crime for the rest of their lives. Moreover, crime not only affects the victim; it can also affect the personal life of those witnessing the crime, members of the family of the victim, and members of the community generally. Even a twenty-five percent reduction in crime (no longer committed by recidivists) would produce significant savings for victims and for society as a whole.
1) U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics--1992 (1993). The FY94 $100 billion figure is a projection based on the 1990 figure of $74.2 billion and the 62.8% increase between 1985-90.
2) Ibid. The 500,000 is for prisons only. During 1990, 1.6 million people began a probation term, and more than 10 million people were admitted to jail, most to await trial. The jail and probation populations are not included in the calculations on these pages.
Introduction to Maharishi's Integrated System of Rehabilitation
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Correctional Officers (Part 1)
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Correctional Officers (Part 2)
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Inmates (Part 1)
Benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for Inmates (Part 2)
Experiences and Reports of Correctional Officers and Inmates (Part 1)
Experiences and Reports of Correctional Officers and Inmates (Part 2)
Benefits to the Department of Corrections
Savings for Taxpayers and Victims of Crime
Summary of Benefits of Transcendental Meditation program in Corrections
Maharishi University of Management
Department of Rehabilitation,
1700 University Court, Fairfield, IA 52556 U.S.A.