Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged

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WHAT INCARCERATION COSTS TAXPAYERS

Feb 1, 2012 | by Nation Inside Team

IN FISCAL YEAR 2010, the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) had $712.4 million in prison expenditures.

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However, the state also had $36.2 million in prison-related costs outside the department’s budget. The total cost of Virginia’s prisons—to incarcerate an average daily population of 29,792—was therefore $748.6 million, of which 4.8 percent were costs outside the corrections budget.

Determining the total cost of state prisons requires accounting for expenditures in all areas of government that support the prison system—not just those within the corrections budget. The additional costs to taxpayers can include expenses that are centralized for administrative purposes (such as employee benefits and capital costs) and services for inmates funded through other agencies. Prison costs also include the cost of underfunded contributions to corrections employees’ pensions and retiree health care plans; states must pay the remainder of those contributions in the future.

Prison costs outside the DOC’s budget included the following:

UNDERFUNDED PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS. In 2010, the state of Virginia contributed 67 percent of the amount necessary to fully fund pensions in the long run. The state will need to pay the remaining $21.9 million, plus interest, to provide for corrections employees’ pension benefits.

RETIREE HEALTH CARE CONTRIBUTIONS. The state of Virginia made a payment of $6.6 million for corrections employees in 2010.

UNDERFUNDED RETIREE HEALTH CARE CONTRIBUTIONS. In 2010, the state of Virginia contributed 53.5 percent of the amount necessary to fully fund retiree health care benefits. The state will need to pay the remaining $5.8 million, plus interest, to provide for the retiree health care benefits for corrections employees that are scheduled under current law.

OTHER COSTS. Capital improvements, corrections-related judgments and legal claims, and a portion of the cost of inmate education and training are funded outside the corrections department. Vera could not obtain this information and these costs are not included in this fact sheet. Therefore, the state’s total prison cost calculated for this report is a conservative estimate.
Download the report, which fully explains the methodology, at www.vera.org/priceofprisons.

Source: Vera Institute of Justice, True Cost of Prisons survey. See “Methodology” for more details. Taxpayer costs include expenses funded by state and federal revenue. Vera could not obtain information about all prison costs outside the state’s corrections budget. These costs were not estimated and appear as NE. Apparent discrepancies between subtotals and totals are the result of rounding.

Lillie Branch-Kennedy (Ms. K)
Executive Director
Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged (RIHD)
PO Box 55 – Highland Springs – Virginia 23075
Website:  http://www.rihd.org/
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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