'The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration'

'The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration'

There are nearly twelve million local jail admissions every year — almost twenty times the number of prison admissions — and these jail systems cost local communities significantly more than the Justice Department's estimate of $22.2 billion in 2011, a report from the Vera Institute of Justice finds. Based on a survey of thirty-five local jail systems in eighteen states, the report, The Price of Jails: Measuring the Taxpayer Cost of Local Incarceration (36 pages, PDF), found that employee benefits; inmate health care; capital, administrative, and legal costs; and inmate services drive up the real cost of jail systems. For example, while the City of New York Department of Corrections spent $1.1 billion in 2014, other city agencies spent an additional $1.3 billion on jail employee benefits, healthcare and education programs for inmates, and administration. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of its Safety and Justice Challenge initiative, the report notes that since the largest factors in spending are personnel-related costs, which are driven by jail population, jurisdictions that wish to lower costs must take steps to reduce over-incarceration.