Western does not believe it is a coincidence that when social-welfare programs were trimmed throughout the 1970s and 1980s, large increases in crime ensued. “We may have skimped on welfare, but we paid anyway, splurging on police and prisons,” he writes. “Dollars diverted from education and employment found their way to prison construction.” Assistant professor of sociology and social studies Matthew Desmond agrees, noting, for example, that the United States serves a smaller segment of its population with public housing than do most European countries—but makes up for it in spending on prisons, which are used as de facto public housing. Says Desmond: “We’re going to house the poor one way or another."
Elizabeth Gudrais, “The Prison Problem”, Harvard Magazine(that last quote is pretty damning)