Experts estimate that elderly prisoners cost prison systems between $60,000 and $70,000 per year. The higher costs stem from the much greater health care needs of the elderly population.
The OIG found that aging inmates are more costly to incarcerate than their younger counterparts due to increased medical needs. The physical infrastructure of BOP institutions also limits the availability of appropriate housing for aging inmates.
The economic cost of incarceration is notoriously high — especially in the U.S., which has around 25% of the world’s prisoners. In addition to the approximately $80 billion spent annually on corrections in the U.S., nearly 2.2 million imprisoned citizens are unable to work and contribute to the economy.
1. The number of offenders convicted and committed to prison terms; 2. The length of time they serve in prison; and 3. The rate of released prisoners who re-offend and are sent back to prison.
The biggest challenge facing our correctional service is the cost associated with caring for elderly prisoners. Aging inmates are more prone to experience chronic health problems, such as diabetes. They are also much more likely to suffer from conditions that will affect their mobility.
In the United States, pay-to-stay is the practice of charging prisoners for their accommodation in jails. In 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio published a comprehensive study of the pay-to-stay policy throughout the state of Ohio, the first detailed study of its kind.
The societal costs of incarceration—lost earnings, adverse health effects, and the damage to the families of the incarcerated—are estimated at up to three times the direct costs, bringing the total burden of our criminal justice system to $1.2 trillion.
In 2018, the Bureau of Prisons reported that the average cost for a federal inmate was $36,299.25 per year, or $99.45 per day. As of July 9, there are 159,692 federal inmates in total, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. That makes for a total annual expense of nearly $5.8 billion per year.
The results revealed that private prisons were no more cost-effective than public prisons, and that other institutional characteristics—such as the facility’s economy of scale, age, and security level—were the strongest predictors of a prison’s daily per diem cost.
Public prisons, or state-operated institutions, are entirely owned and run by the government and are mainly funded through tax dollars. Federal prisons outsource a lot of their spending to other companies. For example, private companies are often hired to run food services and maintenance.
The first and primary reason we incarcerate those convicted of crimes in America is to punish the offender. This is most evident in the court element of our criminal justice system where offenders are sentenced.
Plagued by paranoia, confusion, and memory loss, some elderly inmates will attack staff and fellow prisoners; a few cannot even recall their crimes. Some states are finding innovate ways of dealing with the growing number of prisoners with dementia. One of those states is California.
Nearly 150,000 people incarcerated in state correctional facilities were 55 or older in 2016, the most recent year for which detailed data is available. For the first time, older adults make up a larger share of the state prison population than people from 18 to 24.
Older prisoners carry a greater risk of experiencing social isolation, in particular due to disability which often means that they are unable to participate fully in prison life and have lost contact with friends and family.