WASHINGTON, D.C. –
With a federal law enacted last week, all prisons in the United States are now required to offer what is being called a “compensation pension” to inmates who get out on good behavior.
Under this law, any prisoner whose total sentence was reduced by at least 25% due to good behavior is entitled to a retirement pension of $10,000 per year. Lawmakers are hopeful that this will accomplish a few key goals:
First, prisoners will strive for good behavior overall, reducing the need for as much inmate health care, security, and other costs. Secondly, more prisoners will get out sooner, freeing up space for other criminals. Finally, and most importantly, released prisoners will be able to confidently readjust to society.
“What we see with ex-cons is that they can’t get a good enough job to save for retirement, and they start getting hopeless when they realize that. So they end up right back in prison,” a representative from Auburn Prison told us in an interview.
Auburn Prison, located in Auburn, New York, was instrumental in testing the success of this law in its early stages.
“It wasn’t an overnight decision – we had to help prove that it would work,” the same representative said. “9 out of 10 released convicts stayed out. I’d say it works!”
Aside from freeing up resources immediately, the program also prevents later expenses from returning convicts. Since the program still draws on taxpayer money, taxes are expected to double within the next ten years to compensate for the change.
“We’re also hopeful that this will open up some new career paths for people,” one of the key lawmakers stated. “People can drop out of school, live exciting lives of crime, go to prison for twenty or thirty years, and then come out to a nice pension waiting for them. Some people are just cut out for that kind of life, and this makes it more viable.”
Talks are in progress to follow up with a law prohibiting life sentences to capitalize on the new program.