Jails in New York State Are Severely Overstaffed

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As of 2019, a typical New York county spent more than $225 to keep someone behind bars for a single night. These high costs are driven largely by overstaffing. Understanding staffing levels, therefore, is key to understanding counties’ jail spending. Using data from the New York State Commission on Correction, Vera compared staffing levels from 2014 to 2020 with average quarterly jail populations to calculate the ratio of people in detention per corrections officer and to compare staffing levels with levels allocated in county budgets.

Key Takeaway

The majority of New York’s jails are staffed at double the national average. In practice, this often translates into high spending on personnel to the exclusion of other services and programming.

Key Facts