U.S. Prison Costs Essay

Words: 1627
Pages: 7

U.S. Prison Costs

After reading the essay, “A Homemade Education,” an autobiography of Malcolm X, I became quite curious about how many dollars America spends toward the prison system and how it affects our society. The autobiography itself covers how Malcolm X gained a homemade education simply by reading books while serving time in prison. He claimed, “I don’t think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did…prison enabled me to study far more intensively…sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day” (35). There may be privileges of being sent to prison as one can sit and read books, but the cost of keeping prisons running outweighs the benefits. According to the article Pew Center, the United States has 5 percent of the
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The average cost for maintaining an older inmate is “$70,000- 2 to 3 times that of a younger inmate” (Pew Center). Because of the rising inmate health care costs, cost for prison staffing, and as well as the graying of the nation’s inmates, America is now spending more and more funds on the prison system than ever before. Budget cuts are happening because of the rising prison population. According to the article “Coalition files suit to curb prison spending,” in 2007, there was a 1.6 percent rate of growth that brought the prison population to 1,596,127. In 2006, America saw its biggest increase in the number of people in prison, with California responsible for 20 percent of those inmates. The state has built 23 new prisons for the upcoming 23 years. All prisons and jails are “24-7” operations that require large and highly trained staffs. Every year the cost of keeping the nation’s lock-ups running safely is continuing to overwhelm. The tangible feel of a jail or prison, has been the unquestioned weapon of choice in our battle against crime. I believed that a continual increase in our reliance on incarceration will pay declining dividends in crime prevention. Meaning that expanding prisons will accomplish less and cost more than it has in the past. This growing correction budgets consumption are leaving each state less and less in the pot for other needs. A 2007 data shows that prison costs consume 6.8 percent of state