In “A Report on the High Cost of Sex Offender Incarceration” by Elizabeth J. Letourneau and Travis W. M Roberts, a research paper published with their colleagues at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the “focus was on the cost of incarcerating adults convicted of sex crimes against children in the United States.”

Their study found that the annual cost to incarcerate adults convicted of sex crimes against children in the U.S. approaches $5.4 billion per year.  This amount does not include costs for detection, prosecution, probation/parole, or costs for maintaining the sex offense registries.

According to, it costs $49 billion to incarcerate the men and women now in prison in the United States for years for sex crimes against children.  For the tough-on-crime citizens, this all sounds good until you realize how many victimized children these cases represent. asks the question:  “Is there a way to stop people from offending against a child in the first place?”  Is it possible to develop programs to prevent the sexual victimization of kids before the criminal justice system even needs to get involved?

Research shows that for every dollar spent on prevention of child sexual abuse, $2,700 is allocated toward incarceration.  Again, this does not include the costs for detection, prosecution, etc.

Even Canada and parts of Europe recognize that the U.S. is firmly oriented towards punishment instead of prevention.  Punishment is more costly monetarily than prevention is and causes far more harm to families, but the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) has intertwined profit with the criminal justice system.  “If incarceration rates are higher, profit is undoubtedly higher as well.”  Groups benefiting financially from high incarceration rates are powerful entities which fight to prevent changes from being made.

The U.S. government has recently shown some support for child sexual abuse prevention research.  Not only could it cut down on the incarceration costs but save so many children from ever being sexually victimized.  It would be a win-win.


Share This

Let's Spread Truth

Share this post!