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NCJ Number: 237573 Find in a Library
Title: Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers
Author(s): Christian Hendrickson; Ruth Delaney
Corporate Author: Vera Institute of Justice
United States of America
Date Published: January 2012
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: Pew Center on the States
Washington, DC , 20004-1409
Vera Institute of Justice
New York, NY 10279
Sale Source: Vera Institute of Justice
233 Broadway, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10279
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Document; Document (Online)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A methodology for calculating the full cost of prisons to taxpayers - which was developed in collaboration with a panel of advisers in the fields of corrections and public finance - was used to calculate prison costs in 40 States.
Abstract: The study found that the total taxpayer costs of prisons in these States was 13.9 percent higher than the cost reflected in those States’ combined corrections budgets. The total price to taxpayers was $39 billion, $5.4 billion more than the $33.6 billion reflected in corrections budgets alone. The greatest cost drivers outside of the expenditures of corrections departments were as follows: underfunded contributions to retiree health care for corrections employees ($1.9 billion); States’ contributions to retiree health care on behalf of their corrections departments ($837 million); employee benefits, such as health insurance ($613 million); capital costs ($485 million); hospital and other health care for the prison population ($335 million); and underfunded pension contributions for corrections employees ($304 million). The report advises that although it is essential to recognize the full amount a State spends on its prisons, it is also important to recognize that officials are responsible for ensuring their prisons are safe, secure, and humane, which is a necessarily expensive undertaking. This is why States should not be compared on their per-inmate spending, since low per-inmate costs may invite poorer outcomes in terms of safety and recidivism. This report identifies measures that have proven to reduce spending without jeopardizing public safety, such as modifying sentencing and release policies, strengthening strategies to reduce recidivism, and improving operating efficiency. Appended methodology and a State survey on prison costs
Main Term(s): Corrections costs
Index Term(s): Cost analysis; Prison costs
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