The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) operates one of the most expensive prison system in the world, at an annual cost of $11 billion, according to a news report by the Orange County Register.
The state also has one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, employing more than 30,000 corrections officers, parole agents and investigators. The average wage in May 2016 for officers annually was $70,020, it was reported.
According to The Associated Press (AP), “The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that California had 37,050 correctional officers and jailers at this time last year, according to the Register. The number includes state, county and local state employees.
Reportedly it cost California more than $70,000 a year to incarcerate each inmate on average because nearly half the costs go to security. Cost for medical care balanced out to about $15,000 per inmate annually.
“That’s enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer,” the Associated Press noted.
Other costs associated with an inmate’s yearly incarceration include psychiatric services, $3,359; pharmaceuticals, $2,143; dental care, $1,246; and food, $2,082. The cost of an inmate’s rehabilitative programs in academic education and vocational training is just over $1,600 a year. Additional inmate expenses include facility operations, records, and other activities.
“The prison population has declined in recent years,” the Register reported. “But the population at many facilities is more than 150 percent of designed capacity.”
“In 2011, California prisons were operating at 179.5 percent of design capacity,” the Register reported, using CDCR statistics.
According to the Register, prisons and camps in California were at 131.9 percent capacity at the end of April 2017, with more than 118,000 men and women incarcerated throughout the state, 747 on death row. Another 4,253 are held in private prisons in Arizona and Mississippi.
California’s budget for the fiscal year that started July 1 provides a record $11.4 billion for the CDCR. According to the AP, “there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.”
“The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter,” the Associated Press reported. “Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.”