A new report says state jails in Texas are ineffective, expensive, and actually result in higher recidivism rates than Texas prisons.The report from the Texas Public Policy Foundation suggests taxpayers are getting a bad deal on their tax dollars and public safety.The report’s author, Jeanette Moll, says through the research they have found state jails have become a costly substitute for prisons.”These facilities were actually exceeding the expenses, and had higher recidivism rates than prisons, that adds up to a pretty bad deal for Texas taxpayers,” said Moll

How much does incarceration cost?

Federal prison: The federal prison system’s budget in fiscal year 2014 is $6.9 billion, which represents one-quarter of the budget of the Department of Justice. The average cost of incarcerating a federal prisoner in 2012 was $29,027.46, or $79.31 per day.

State prisons: A 2012 study by the Vera Institute of Justice found that the true cost of prisons in 40 states, including things like hospital services and retirement benefits for staff, ran to $39 billion a year.

That comes out to an average cost of $31,286 per inmate. New York led the states with a cost of $60,076 per inmate; Kentucky spent only $14,603.

In 2009, the Pew Center on the States calculated the average daily cost of prison, probation and parole across 33 states, and found that prison cost an average of $78.95 per inmate per day, while parole cost $7.47 and probation cost $3.42.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

1 Comment

  1. MA on July 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I feel like Texas never does anything right, so this is not surprising. I mean, they have the highest execution rate, some notoriously racist prison laws, and governors that have been incompetent at best. Asking Texas to reform their prison laws is like asking Britney Spears to be a better underground rapper. If you’re not starting from the right baseline, there is no way that they are going to improve. It’s tragic, really.



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