Monday, December 26, 2005

Statistics. Use with care, may be hazardous.

There was an excellent letter this morning in the Providence Journal letters to the editor section. A physician was writing about the recidivism of drug offenders. He compares the average cost per offender in prison to the average cost of methadone treatment, $30,142 (minimum security) versus $4250 average for methadone treatment.

Those pesky statistics can be misleading. The infrastructure, buildings, the minimum staffing of a prison facility means the cost per prisoner goes down dramatically as the number of prisoners goes up. If the average cost per prisoner is say, $75,000, a prison will not save $75,000 for each released prisoner.

That is not to diminish the doctor's main points in his letter. He is spot on when he points out the failure of our penal system in its treatment of substance abusers. Methadone clinics certainly do a better job at addressing the recidivism problem but what's right is right, independent of the cost.

Statistics can be misleading. Use with great care.

But maybe it's just me.

(Please use the "comments" link below to post your thoughts.)

1 comment:

Daniel Marso said...

40 years ago I left the U.S. Marines,and went to work for the New England Telephone Co. in those 40 years I have moved from part of the establishment, to a point were I do not trust Government at any level. On this site, someone wrote that our Demacracy is in danger from apathy,helplessness,and cynicysim. We all feel Smith Hill is out of control,a single party, no matter which is bad for government. Most Americans I feel do not think they have much of a say in our govrnment, Local,State,or Federal. Public service unions are bankraupting the
State,and the Citys and towns.As private companies are dropping thier"promises" to thier employees left and right, the public service contracts seem to be "written in stone". Where will this money come from? We have to have some politicians that will stop this giveaway, when there arn't enough
taxpayers to support these public service contracts,what are they going to do? The blatent money grab
attempted by the daycare workers was unbelievable, you can't make this stuff up.The sad part is they really think they are deserving of this boondoggle, the middleclass is
being destroyed and if you destroy
the middleclass,you will destroy this country as we know it.