Prison Costs

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

You could cut prison costs in half overnight by releasing all drug offenders.

Amplify’d from

I’ll return
to the governor’s pungent comment. But first, I’d like to mention
a few facts about American prisons. I’ll start with California.
The California prison system, euphemistically known as the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, employs more people
than any other state agency. It has 69,000 authorized positions.
Between 1998 and 2009, its budget almost tripled, reaching $10.3
billion dollars in the latter year – despite the fact that the number
of people in prison had increased by only 9% during the period.
(I’m using the Department’s own figures here.) As of 2009, the average
cost of maintaining an inmate in this system was more than $49,000,
of which about a third was spent on healthcare. That is more than
twice what my own excellent healthcare insurance costs me and my
employer, the University of California, despite the fact that I,
unlike 85% of the inmates in California prisons, am over 50 years
old and therefore have higher real healthcare costs than the average
California inmate.

Now, if you
think this picture is representative only of California, you are
right – in a way. Florida, which is demographically comparable in
many respects, and also has a “modern” prison system, spends only
about $20,000 per year, per inmate, and of that only $4300 is spent
on healthcare.




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