Study: Mass Incarceration System Costs At Least $182 Billion per Year

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Photo by Krystian Olszanski via Flickr

The system of mass incarceration costs the government and families of justice-involved individuals at least $182 billion per year, says a new report by the Prison Policy Institute.

“While this report asks a very simple question about the financial costs of mass incarceration, a comprehensive answer has never existed before because the government doesn’t collect or organize these statistics in one place,” write Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy in the report entitled, “Following the Money of Mass Incarceration.” “We wanted to take a holistic view without also exaggerating our findings by including tens of billions of dollars in policing and court expenses that have little to do with the enforcement of criminal law.”

Costs associated with the system of mass incarceration include:

  • $80.7 billion for public corrections agencies including prisons, jails and probation.
  • $5.8 billion for prosecution.
  • $63.2 billion for policing (only criminal law).
  • $12.3 billion for health care.

The full report is available here.

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