The state corrections department spends about $670 million s a year running prisons and the state probation and parole system. It keeps about 30,000 people behind the walls and fences of twenty adult institutions and has about 70,000 more people on the outside. Some state lawmakers looking for ways to cut the state budget have found out how much it costs to keep someone in prison.
The corrections department has to feed and clothe its inmates. When those inmates get sick, they have to have medical help., They have to be kept warm in the winter. They have to have access to a law library. There are education and training programs available. Somebody has to guard them. Lights have to be on and some fences have to be electrified.
Add up all of these costs of incarceration, divide by the number of inmates being held, and you get the cost of incarceration.
The department’s Joseph Eddy says it costs $44.68 a day per inmate. He says $12.14 a day is for medical and mental health services. Another $2.54 pays for three meals a day.
Prisoners also are paid for their work—7-dollars-50 cents a month. If they have their GED, they can earn an extra dollar. That’s about 35 cents a day.
Eddy says the direct costs of each inmate every day is $16.39 a day. The other $28 go for the administrative and prison personnel, utilities, and other costs that go with running a prison.