Optimal punishment is swift and sure but also has a defined endpoint. As with bankruptcy, punishment must end, leaving both hope and opportunity. We used to release criminals without a nickel or a nail but with an understanding that their debt to society had been paid. Today, we release criminals with a ball of debt and other restrictions that chains them to the criminal justice system and which can pull them back into prison long after their sentences have been served. Releasing people with little hope or opportunity for reintegration with civil society is good for neither the releasees nor society.
Great post by Alex Tabarrok on the injustice of criminal justice fees. Read the whole thing. This caught my eye because Hot Springs, Arkansas is considering a new fee, in which prisoners would pay $15 a day for the right to be imprisoned.