According to a U.S. Department of Justice Official the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, could reduce the cost of incarceration and prisoner re-entry. An article by The Crime Report states:
Local and federal governments spend about $80 billion annually on corrections — about $35,000 per inmate, but Amy Solomon, an advisor to the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, noted that those receiving continuing healthcare beyond incarceration are significantly less likely to be re-arrested.
Beginning in 2014, Americans who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line and reside in 25 states that have agreed to a Medicaid expansion will qualify for access to the government insurance program. Those who earn up to four times the poverty line will qualify for federally subsidized insurance.
Solomon goes on to say that many times when prisoners are released they are returning to poverty stricken communities where the healthcare they received behind bars fails to continue. Qualifying for the government insurance program could give former inmates their first chance to receive healthcare outside of confinement.
This is important because many times people are sent to jail or prison because of behavior stemming from addiction or mental illness. By having affordable or subsidized healthcare available there can be less expensive treatment alternatives rather than incarceration, essentially identifying low risk criminals who make up majority of the corrections population.
The report states that in New York there is only 8 percent of high risk criminals that account for 80 percent of crime; a statistic given by Elizabeth Glazer, former deputy secretary for public safety at the New York State Office of Criminal Justice Services.
“The question becomes, does everybody taking up an expensive prison bed have to be there?….Done right, fewer people are going back to jail and prison, and that’s sort of where the bigger incentive is,” Glazer said.