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Cost to Jail Someone in New York City: $167,731 a Year

Cost to Jail Someone in New York City: $167,731 a Year

by Joe Watson

It turns out that getting an overpriced Manhattan address is as easy as going to jail.

A study released in August 2013 by New York City's Independent Budget Office revealed that it cost the Big Apple $167,731 to house and feed each of the 12,287 prisoners in its jails in 2012.

New York City's annual cost per prisoner is nearly six times greater than the annual average taxpayer cost of $31,286 per prisoner in 40 states that were surveyed in a 2010 Vera Institute of Justice study. Of those states that participated in the Vera study, New York ranked most expensive, with an average cost of $60,000 per state prisoner. And still, that's just over a third the cost to jail someone in New York City.

"It is troubling in both human terms and financial terms," Doug Turetsky, the budget office's chief of staff, told the New York Times. "It is a significant cost to the city."

According to Michael P. Jacobsen, director of City University of New York's Institute for State and Local Governance, the high costs are the result of greater delays in adjudicating jail detainees' cases and an "inmate-to-staff ratio" that "probably hovers around two prisoners for every guard," he said.

Wages, benefits for staff and pension costs, in fact, represent 83% of the costs per prisoner, according to the budget office.

Though New York City's jail population has been reduced from about 23,000 prisoners in 1993, the wait times for cases to be disposed have increased from 76 days in 2002 to 95 days in 2012.

"On paper you would think that with a lot less work, these things should be blowing through the system and they are not," said Jacobsen, also a former city corrections and probation commissioner. "If you have more time to do something, you will take more time."

Source: New York Times


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