The Extravagance of Imprisonment Revisited

By , January 20, 2010 7:26 pm

Prisons. In 2008, there were 1.3 million sentenced pris- oners under the jurisdiction of states. An estimated 22% (301,331) of all prisoners were convicted of nonserious, nonsexual offenses.
The national average cost to incarcerate an offender for one year was $28,648. Collectively, states spent $39 billion in 2006 on state corrections, which includes prisons, parole, and juvenile justice.

Jails. In 2008, the average daily population of jails was 776,573. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 37% (288,109) of these were convicted. Of convicted jail inmates, 39% (112,362) were nonserious, nonsexual offenders. In 2006, the national average cost to house an offender in jail was $27,237 per year. Collectively, states spent $21 billion on local corrections, which includes jail and probation.

Cost savings of alternatives. In 2008, states spent $12.9 billion to incarcerate 80% (330,954) of nonserious, nonsexual offenders in prisons and jails. Alternatives are estimated to cost $3.2 billion. A total cost savings of at least $9.7 billion can be expected with implementation of alternatives.

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