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Economist Proposes 'Weight Classes for Prisons' to Reduce Rapes

Scale I thought I was being creative when I suggested "marital prisons" for spouses who are convicted of felonies, but George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan has a far more interesting proposal that might cut down on prison rape: "Reduce the variance of strength and aggression within single-sex prisons by separating prisoners into something like 'weight classes.'”

Brilliant! As discussed on the EconLog blog here and in this post on The Volokh Conspiracy, Caplan argues that:

In boxing, heavyweights don’t fight featherweights. It’s not a fair fight. But in prison, heavyweights serve their time side-by-side with featherweights. A simple remedy for rape and brutality, then, is split up prisoners by size and strength. You could assign the various classes of prisoners to different wings. Or if that’s too logistically difficult, you could assign each prison a weight class, then reallocate existing prisoners.

As the comments pouring into the VC post observe, this proposal would not protect weaker prisoners from ninja warrior prisoners in their same weight class, and it would not stop gangs from going after an individual. It could be an easy and low-cost initiative to consider in the fight against prison rape, however.

Posted by Bruce Carton on May 10, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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