Vera Institute Report: American Taxpayers Spent Nearly $39 Billion Last Year on Incarceration

Last week, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections and Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit released a new report entitled The Price of Prison: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers. The report analyzed data from 40 states, estimating the total price American taxpayers paid in 2010 to fund corrections budgets, employee benefits, capital costs and healthcare services for inmates. The study projects that taxpayers paid almost $39 billion in the 2010 FY, which was more than $5 billion more than what the official corrections budgets originally projected. According to the report, Americans paid almost $2 billion to fund retiree health care programs for corrections employees, with another $1.5 billion going to fund state contributions to retiree health care and employee benefits, including health insurance. The report also factored in a number of other costs outside state corrections’ budgets that were funded by public dollars, including inmate services, legal judgments and claims, private facility costs and overlapping statewide administrative costs.