Jails are far more expensive than previously understood, as significant jail expenditures—such as employee benefits, health care and education programs for incarcerated people, and general administration—are often not reflected in jail budgets, but rather in other county agencies. This report surveys 35 jail jurisdictions in 18 states to tally the actual price of their jails—and discovered that the untallied cost of jail can be sizable. More than 20 percent of jail costs were outside the jail budget in nearly a quarter of the surveyed jurisdictions.
The surest way to safely cut jail costs is to reduce the number of people who enter and stay there. In doing so, jurisdictions will be able to save resources and make investments necessary to address the health and social service needs of their communities.
As government leaders and the public question whether jail is being used cost-effectively to meet a community’s safety and justice needs, they need to understand what the total costs are. The methodology developed for this study can serve as a tool to do that.
The annual cost, per incarcerated individual, averaged $47,057 in the 35 jurisdictions that responded to Vera’s survey.
Payroll expenses comprise 74 percent of the total cost of jails.
The cost of jails, nationwide, has grown four-fold between 1983 and 2011—from $5.7 billion to 22.2 billion.
U.S. jails now hold more than 730,000 people on any given day—more than triple their population in 1983.
There were nearly 12 million jail admissions in the U.S. in 2013
Jails house 1/3 of the country’s incarcerated population on any given day.
Conservatives—and Trump voters—overwhelmingly support criminal justice reform, new poll says
When asked what that personal relationship with incarceration might mean for how the Trump administration could galvanize its base to pursue criminal justice reform, Reddy referenced the opioid crisis that is crippling communities nationwide. “Trump did very well in areas where the opioid crisis has hit America the hardest. Anybody who’s followed t...
"Bringing Light (Re-entry)” Groundswell © 2017
A Direction Home
In Recognition of National Reentry Week
Vera Institute Eleventh Annual Gala
On Thursday, April 20, 2017, justice reform leaders and supporters joined the Vera Institute of Justice for Vera’s 11th Annual Gala, Reimagine Justice. Honorees discussed approaches to criminal justice reform and the future of the movement in a very different federal climate. Samuel David Flores Murillo, a client of Vera’s recently expanded New Yo...