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Dream of Califor-incarceration? Housing a prisoner costs more than Harvard tuition

(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

It costs more to send a kid through prison than through Harvard — and that cost comes at taxpayer expense.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the cost of housing a prisoner in California is expected to reach $75,560 in the next year, which is much more than it costs to attend Harvard University, including room & board. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is allocating a record $11.4 billion in the next fiscal year to the department of corrections to cover the state’s 130,000 approximate inmates.

The price of each prisoner has doubled since 2005, even though the prison population has been reduced by a quarter due to overcrowding court orders.

Adam Bates, a policy analyst with Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, told Red Alert Politics that despite the decreasing prison population in California, there’s still too much bloat in the prison system.

“There are too many people in prison who shouldn’t be there, especially drug offenders,” Bates said. “Hopefully these cost projections will bolster the argument that prison should only be for people who are too dangerous to be in society.”

Bates continued to say that tackling criminal justice reform might actually help address these matters better.

“This phenomenon of prison spending steadily increasing even while the inmate population falls suggests it’s time to start taking on the prison personnel unions as well,” Bates argued. “It also highlights the need for fiscal conservatives to get with the program on criminal justice reform so they can help solve these problems rather than just rejecting the premise that we need to do prison differently.”

According to the CBA that was brokered between Gov. Brown and California’s correctional officers’ union in 2016, union members totaled $2.45 billion, which averages out to an annual salary of $85,600 per employee.


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