Report: The Cost of Imprisonment in California Is Enough to Pay a Full Year’s Tuition at Harvard

Man behind prison bars

Anyone accused of a crime in California has to reach out to the best firms in the state, such as The Law Office Of Troy P. Owens, Jr, for a good reason. Getting the right defense and staying out of the criminal justice system is one of the effective strategies to reduce the staggering costs of incarceration.

Enough to Send a Scholar to Harvard

Contrary to what many people believe, crime rates have been steadily falling down over the last 25 years compared with the 1960s and 1980s. This trend is also occurring in California. However, in spite of these developments, the costs of keeping prisoners remain high.

The state has the highest per-inmate cost in the country at almost $10,000. It’s an increase of 13% since 2015. The overall costs, though, have already gone up twofold since 2005. On the contrary, attending Harvard is about $2,000 less.

Much of the increase goes toward the benefits of the prison staff, namely the correctional officers and the medical providers. The actual problem, however, may stem from the fact the justice system in the state has failed to scale back to match the decline of the inmates.

In other words, before, one guard works with four inmates. Today, there’s still the guard, but this time, he or she watches only two inmates.

The Costs Go beyond the Prison Walls

To make matters worse, the numbers above are still not the actual costs. After all, incarceration affects many aspects of an inmate’s life. They suffer from lost wages and other financial benefits they could have enjoyed if they’re out.

It’s possible that an incarcerated person could incur over $22,000 of lost productivity each year. Furthermore, they are vulnerable to experience reduced lifetime earnings that could reach 40%. Studies show that previously incarcerated individuals struggle with job discrimination and lack of opportunities.

Most of all, incarceration changes the family dynamic in a negative way. A child’s separation from the parents may bring about negative feelings such as shame, anger, and disconnection from the parents.

This could increase the risk of poor school performance and a defiant attitude against persons of authority, among others.

There’s no doubt some people need to spend a long time in prison, but there’s also no question that the justice system needs some appropriate changes not only to cope with the costs but to minimize the hidden costs.