The Average Cost to House Inmates in Prison

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Most people have little idea what the average cost is to house inmates in prison. For example, in California, an average bill per day to house an inmate in state prisons is about $129. The bill at some prisons is a little less depending on the cost of living in the particular state, but these figures will likely increase every year.

Security and Administration

  • To have someone on duty for security, it costs $19,663 per inmate per year. That amounts to $53.87 a day. Administration costs are $3,493 per inmate per year. That amounts to $9.56 a day. That amounts to $23,156 per year for security and administration.

Health Care

  • The cost for inmate health care can be high. Because every inmate is entitled to health care, the cost per inmate for health care per year is $12,442. Broken down, that is $8,768 for medical care, $1,928 for psychiatric services, $998 for pharmaceuticals and $748 for dental care. That amounts to $38.04 per day per year.

Operations

  • The operations costs per inmate per year are $7,214. Broken down, that is $4,503 for facility operations, classification services is $1,773, maintenance of records is $660, assignment, testing and reception costs $261 and transportation costs $18. That amounts to $19.76 per day per year.

Rehabilitation

  • The cost per year for rehabilitation programs per inmate are $1,612. Broken down, that is $944 for academic education, $354 for vocational training and $313 for substance abuse programs. That amounts to $4.41 per day per year.

Inmate Support

  • To house an inmate and provide inmate support, it costs $2,562 per year. That is $1,475 for food, $439 for activities, $407 for canteen and employment, $171 for clothing and $70 for religious activities. That amounts to $7.02 per day per year.

Final Count

  • All told, it costs an average of $129.04 a day to house an inmate in the prison system. Although these figures come from California corrections, it is slightly lower in other parts of the country, but not by much.

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