The Spatial Information Design Lab, "using rarely accessible data from the criminal justice system," created maps "showing city-prison-city-prison migration flow for five of the nation's cities." Revealed in these maps is information about the cost of incarceration per city block. Here are the results for Phoenix:
The colored areas on this map are city blocks where the cost of incarceration ranges between $0.5 million and upwards of $2 million. In these "Million Dollar Blocks," the criminal justice system has become the most visible and impactful government institution. Here's a comparison of the map with racial demographics (the shaded areas in this map are areas that have high minority populations):
Notice the overlap?
Here's a close-up of Maryvale's "million dollar blocks":
From this image, one can see that the cost of incarcerating Maryvale residents is at least $30 million a year (Estrella and South Phoenix look worse). And that's just the cost of housing individuals in prisons. That doesn't include the collateral costs of disappearing so many people from these neighborhoods-- the emotional costs borne by children who may live without a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or mentor; the financial burden borne by families who must manage without a member of their household; the economic drain on these neighborhoods as individuals are funneled away from work and into prisons.
This is a perverse form of public investment that destroys the lives of those incarcerated and undermines the fabric of communities. It doesn't have to be this way.
What if all this money was redirected to work force development programs? Or put into schools and childcare? Into mental health care services? Into street lights, parks and transportation? Into community gardens and farmers' markets? What would those "million dollar blocks" look like then? What would our Phoenix community look like?
This is why Justice That Works is creating a new system. Because we believe in investing in people, not prisons. #redefiningsafety #justicethatworks