Study Estimates Annual Cost of Incarcerating Adults Convicted of Child Sex Crimes
Newswise — The U.S. government spent an estimated $5.4 billion last year at the state and federal level to incarcerate adults convicted of sex crimes against children under age 18, according to a new study led by a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health researcher.
The study calculated annual spending on incarcerated adults convicted of sex crimes against children under age 18 in U.S. federal and state prisons and sex offender civil commitment facilities. The findings, published online March 23 in the journal Sexual Abuse, highlight the cost of what is considered a preventable public health problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys under age 18 experience sexual abuse during childhood. Research suggests that about 12 percent of the world’s children will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18.
“The costs for this incarceration are extraordinary,” says study author Elizabeth J. Letourneau, PhD, professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health and director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. “We spend billions of dollars on criminal justice remedies after child sexual abuse has already occurred, and yet there are very limited resources for preventing this abuse from occurring in the first place.”
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