Check out this LA Times article posted by one of our members explaining how it costs more to house a prisoner in California annually than tuition at Harvard. As the article notes, California Governor Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the fiscal year “includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.”
The enormous cost is following the 2011 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Plata requiring the state to reduce its prison population by 137.5%. Since, although the state has reduce prison population by one-quarter since 2005, costs still continue to skyrocket. This illustrates that if you don’t figure out ways to CLOSE prisons, and to reform the justice system in a comprehensive manner, you don’t save much money. Providing adequate facilities and personnel to house the many many prisons we built during the boom in use of prisons as a means of crime control is extremely expensive–and only lucrative to the prison industrial complex.