It costs $25,000 - $50,000 to incarcerate a low level non violent offender for 1 year for a minor drug violation. That is the first expense. The second expense is lost productivity during the time of incarceration. Many people were working prior to incarceration. Many parents were caring for their children prior to incarceration.
The third expense is upon release. Most previously incarcerated individuals cannot find work or live at home if their family is receiving any type of government aid. For the rest of their working career, tax revenue is lost, hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income over the years, the family suffers, the community suffers and economies suffer because of the swelling number of people that are being forced into this population.
These legislative policies continue to create mass incarceration of low level non violent drug offenders and deletes hundreds of millions of dollars from urban and at risk communities in the form of paychecks.
Approximately 40,000 low level non-violent drug offenders are arrested every month across the United States. If an additional 10% of the 650,000 ex-felons released each year were employed at an average of $20,000 per year, that would generate approximately 10 billion dollars in taxable income while boosting local economies and businesses. All lost for $30 worth of drugs.