How Much are Prisons Really Costing Taxpayers?
|February 20, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, News||
Since it is budget time again in the Commonwealth, I wanted to post about an interesting fiscal analysis of correctional institutions that I came across recently. The Vera Institute of Justice and the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project collaborated to identify the true financial cost of state prisons to tax payers, not just that included departmental budgets. The 2012 report, Price of Prisons What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers by Christian Henrichson and Ruth Delaney, details their findings on the distribution of prison costs across various agencies and the true cost to taxpayers.
The researchers developed a methodology to capture three kinds of costs, administrative, inmate services (paid for from outside funding streams) and pension and retiree health care plans. They also identified numerous costs that fell outside of corrections budgets yet fell to the taxpayer, concluding that prisons cost taxpayers about 14 percent more than the expenditures listed in the annual budgets represent.
The study lists Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections as spending over 1 and a half billion dollars in the 2010 prison budget, with an additional $463.8 million (over 22.5 percent) in related costs outside the corrections budget. A breakdown of the 2010 budget (and not-in-the-budget) expenditure data from the 40 states that participated in the study is also available online via the Vera Institute of Justice website.