California’s new budget equates to a record $75,560 to imprison each felon next year
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California could send each of its 130,000 inmates to Harvard University and still save money over what it spends to keep them locked up.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s recently revised budget projects it will cost a record $75,560 to imprison each felon over the next year. That’s $2,000 above Harvard’s tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses.
The prison price — the nation’s highest — has doubled since 2005. More than three-quarters of the cost is for security and inmate health care, with salaries and benefits for guards and other workers driving much of the increase.
Critics say the record $11.4 billion corrections department budget should be lower because lawsuits have forced the state to trim the inmate population by a quarter in the last decade.
But the prison guards’ union says the inmates who remain are the most dangerous and carry higher costs.