ST. LOUIS — When judges here sentence convicted criminals, a new and unusual variable is available for them to consider: what a given punishment will cost the State of Missouri.
For someone convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, for instance, a judge might now learn that a three-year prison sentence would run more than $37,000 while probation would cost $6,770. A second-degree robber, a judge could be told, would carry a price tag of less than $9,000 for five years of intensive probation, but more than $50,000 for a comparable prison sentence and parole afterward. The bill for a murderer’s 30-year prison term: $504,690.
Some people deserve imprisonment, obviously, but does putting a price tag on a sentence make a judge less inclined to sentence someone to five years in jail for, say, possession when the sentence will cost a year's salary? Will be very interesting to look back in a few years and see how this information affects sentencing in Missoura.