Report | Corrections spending | January 2012 (updated)
By the Vera Institute
Persistent fiscal challenges in the United States have spurred greater scrutiny of government spending. States’ corrections expenditures, which have nearly quadrupled over the past two decades, are receiving considerable attention. These circumstances make it crucial for policy makers and the public to understand the full cost of prisons to taxpayers—something that is easier said than done. Although corrections departments pay the vast majority of costs for state prisons, other departments pay related expenses—some of which are substantial. Depending on the state, these can include employee benefits, capital costs, in-prison education services, or hospital care for inmates. Additionally, the cost of underfunded contributions for corrections employees’ pension and retiree health care plans must be included in a comprehensive accounting of prison costs.