Aug 16 2010

How Does California Spend $49,000 per Prisoner? A Breakdown of Costs


I was curious to find out what the breakdown of spending per prisoner was in California.  How does California allocate the $49,000 per year that it spends for each prisoner?  Thankfully Mother Jones magazine already did the research back in 2008.

Security $20,429
Medical services $7,669
Parole operations $4,436
Facility operations $3,938
Administration $2,871
Psychiatric services $1,403
Food $1,377
Education $687
Records $513
Vocational education $289
Inmate welfare fund $282
Clothing $152
Religion $53
Activities $23
Library $23
Transportation $15
Sources: Bureau of Justice Statistics; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; National Association of State Budget Officers

It is clear from this chart that the bulk of the costs of incarceration are staffing (security, administration, parole operations etc…) and overhead (facilities).  The amount that actually goes to supporting the prisoner himself is dwarfed by these other costs.  I think that this chart is a great way of explaining what we mean when we talk about a prison industrial complex to others.  It illustrates the jobs that are associated with this system and all of the different places where people are financially profiting from incarceration.