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New York City pays out $167,000 -- per prison inmate

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The lowliest prison inmate in New York City gets more in care than the average career person at their top level of salary. The city spent about $167,000 per inmate last year. With 12,287 prisoners on an average day, that's an awful lot of money.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These alarming figures are credited to the Independent Budget Office's first-ever study of the New York City's jails.

"The numbers provide a troubling statistical portrait of the more than 12,000 people in our city jails on a typical day last year, coming at a significant fiscal cost to the city and no doubt great social cost to families and communities," the office's Doug Turetsky says.


The average annual cost per inmate includes such expenses as staff salaries, fringe benefits, facility maintenance and capital expenditures.


Former president of the Vera Institute of Justice and a former city correction commissioner Michael Jacobson says those fixed costs don't change. Jacobson also notes that the city's incarceration numbers are down by nearly half since the early Nineties, when crack flooded city neighborhoods. The daily inmate population peaked at 21,000 in 1992.


"Jail is an expensive proposition, which is why you want to use it only when you have to use it," Jacobson said.

There is also a huge disparity when it came to race: 57 percent of inmates were black, 33 percent Hispanic and seven percent white.

Ninety-three percent of those locked up were male and three-quarters were pre-trial detainees. The other one-quarter were sentenced to city jail time or were waiting transfer to state prisons.


A small number of the incarcerated, seven percent were ages 16 to 18.


Jacobson said that number is lower than it was when he was commissioner due to city efforts to provide adolescents with alternatives to incarceration.



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