NYC Pays $167,731 per Inmate per Year

August 23, 2013 | Andy Cush

A new study reveals the City of New York pays a mind-bogglingly large $167,731 on each of its inmates each year that they’re imprisoned. For context, a 2010 study put the average annual cost per prisoner across 40 states at $31,286. Last year, there were 12,287 people imprisoned in NYC, bringing the total cost up to $2,060,910,797. Let that sink in.

According to the Independent Budget Office as reported by the New York Times, 83 percent of that cost went to “wages, benefits for staff and pension costs.”

For a person living outside the prison system, rent in Manhattan averages at $3,822. Multiply that by 12 months in the year ($45,862), budget out $200 per week for food ($56,262), and the $42,490 salary of a 90th-percentile-paid security guard, and you’re at a $98,752 cost to taxpayers to allow prisoners to live freely, each with a personal guard–about $69,000 per year cheaper than what we’re paying now. Or you could just reform the whole system and start giving drug offenders rehab and therapy instead of sending them to prison.