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The US Spends More Than $80 Billion a Year Incarcerating 2.3 Million People

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/21/us-spends-more-80-billion-year-incarcerating-23-million-people

I have no problem with the number incarcerated or the amount spent. I do have a problem with the demographic of the incarcerated.

Although it was a rare day during the 20th century that you could pick up a newspaper and not read a story about “white collar crime” with many white collar criminals serving time, by the time the SCOTUS installed Dick Cheney and his puppet Dubya on the throne in 2001 decriminalization of white collar crime was complete. Zero indictments of white collar criminals for their roles in causing the 2008 crash confirmed that white collar crime had been eradicated in murka.

The problem will be solved only when all of FDR’s New Deal regulations and programs that have been dismantled during the past four decades are restored and we replace the current prison population with “white collar crime” perpetrators.


Well. At a very minimum this 80 billion could go to public coffers rather than private hands, say hiring teachers to teach skills to this population, half of which shouldn’t even be there. And the part outside the scope of this article is the atrocious prices that private corporations charge the prisoners for basic services and products. Imagine if at least that were better regulated.


I agree with your assessment of white collar crime, which today is just business as usual.
I do find it abit curious however, that you have no problem with America having 25% of the entire planet’s prisoners, or that they are housed at an insanly inflated cost.
Which, incidentally, is subtracted from taxpayers and handed over to private/corporate interests. Whitecollar criminals as it were.
I suspect a big part of the problem is America’s collective desire to punish and villify, as i don’t see many other reasons why things would be allowed to reach this point.


And no rehabilitation – and no help when they leave prison – I think the number
now is 600,000 every year. Just recently looked it up and forgot –

And what’s 2.3 million into $80 BILLION … or is it “into” the other way around?

This many prisoners is testimony to US failures and injustices – poverty breeds crime –
AA’s battling for their lies – “White male supremacy” rising here – lack of full employment –
destruction of full unemployment benefits – welfare guarantees –

And what we hear from prisoners is that they are being tortured – not hard to believe.


and then has the unmitigated gall to criticize other nations for doing what we have been doing for decades


Yes, that is 80 billion divided by 2.3 million.
$ 34,782.61 per prisoner per year. For incarceration. Only.
This does not include pre- or post- incarceration expenditures.
Like investigations, trials, probation, and etc…

I have a radical idea.
What if we just gave each of these criminals $30,000.00?
That would be a savings of 4782.61 times 2.3 million or 11 billion in savings.
I bet they would use that money to buy food and pay bills.
They might even go to college.


Remember Ferguson Mo—something like 70% of the African American community had some kind of interaction with law enforcement and the “justice” system----ever hear of the “calif stop” you don’t stop long enough they will give you a $400. ticket-----??? The police can Knock your down at one in the morning—be dressed in plain cloths----not announce who they are??? And they just kill you.

We live in a CORPORATE MILITARY POLICE STATE-----if a cop wanted to destroy you or me they could do it with ease-------because it happens every day.


It is slave labor----call it what it is------if these people are putting out fires pay them a real wage—so they can have money when they get out??? But we don’t know the truth about how much cheap labor these prisoners are providing--------If the state takes your freedom they should foot the bill for their evil.

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It’s a RACKET----the courts–the politicians-----the police—prison unions—

I went to night court-----the judge went on and on complaing that the politicians in Sacremento were taking all the money---------guess he wasn’t getting his cut.


I was working on project for a preventative program.
(Keeping people out of jail.)
It focuses on school, sports, and music programs for children.
How strange this article popped up today to remind me that I had set it aside for long enough and need get back to it.

Here is some data.
~https://lao.ca.gov/PolicyAreas/CJ/6_cj_inmatecost 2019
$81,0000 per prisoner per year to incarcerate. (about half is medical care)

130,000 prisoners in California 2019.

$21 billion budget for Criminal Justice 2020 California (page-7)

$21,000,000,000 / 130,000 prisoners =

$161,538.46 per criminal per year in California Tax dollars.

(That is an expensive loaf of bread.)


I stole a loaf of bread.

You robbed a house.

I broke a window pane.
My sister’s child was close to death
And we were starving.

You will starve again
Unless you learn the meaning of the law.

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  • Between 3:00 and 6:00 PM are the peak hours of violent crime, and are also the hours when children are most likely to be the victims of crime
  • Teens left unsupervised 3 or more days per week are twice as likely to hang out with a gang member and three times more likely to be engaged in criminal behavior
  • Areas with high crime rates also tend to have lower rates of physical activities

Studies have shown reduced crime rates in areas with sports-based youth development initiatives.

Kids Who Play Youth Sports Are Less Likely To
• contravene the law or go to prison
• join a gang
• abuse alcohol or drugs
• abuse sex or become pregnant
• skip class
• have discipline problems in school
• drop out of school
• become a welfare recipient

Close to 60 percent of parents reported spending between $250 and $2,500 on sports programming each year.

(p. 3)

  • many health benefits associated with physical activity for youth. Benefits can be obtained regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, ability, or current fitness level. Compared to their less active peers, youth who engage in regular physical activity have improved bone health, weight status, cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, cardiometabolic health, cognitive function, and a reduced risk of depression.

  • benefits include higher levels of perceived competence, confidence, and self-esteem; reduced risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts and tendencies; and improved life skills, such as goal setting, time management, and work ethic.

  • sport participation can reduce youth violence and crime, either by distracting from these activities or by exposing youth to opportunities for personal growth.

  • Participation in physical activity and sports also yields cognitive (e.g., concentration, memory) and academic benefits (e.g., school attendance), higher grade point averages (GPA), lower dropout rates, and fewer disciplinary problems (e.g., suspensions).

Chapter 6 ( p. 49 - p. 50 )

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$2,500 per year is the high average for an afterschool sports program (music program costs are about the same).

$161,538 per criminal per year in California Tax dollars.
/ $2,500.00 =
64.61 kids programs per ONE criminal.

Population numbers according to

40,000,000 Californians
/ 130,000 prisoners in California
= 0.325% of population

there are about 6.6 million school age children in California.

6,600,000 kids
2,500 each per year 16,500,000,000.00 (16.5 Billion) per year to send every California child to an afterschool sports and / or music program.
(21% less than the $21 billion budget for Criminal Justice 2020 California

.325% of 6,600,000
= 21,450 (children are headed to prison)
x 2500 = $ 53,625,000 (Million)-(would cost for youth programs)

21,450 x 161,538 = 3,464,990,100 (Billion)-(will cost for Criminal Justice)

53,625,000 / 3,464,990,100 = 1.55%
53,625,000 is 98.45% less than 3,464,990,100

It costs 98.45% less to keep a kid out of prison.
I wonder what I am missing.

Have not considered the health aspects and savings yet.

$149 Billion - Health and Human Services (Medical) - Budget 2020 California

(maybe a few bucks can be saved and diverted there too?)

How many kids can be saved?
Turned into good tax paying consumer citizens?

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“The US Spends More Than $80 Billion a Year Incarcerating 2.3 Million People” and another $trillion dollars blowing up most of the rest of the world in its Endless Wars. All of this at the expense of doing nothing significant about Human Caused Climate Change.

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Elcil –


And a great idea as you’re making clear –

Nixon actually proposed paying people who weren’t making living wages –

Keep on telling it – you’re doing a great job –

and thank you for running the figures – I very much appreciate it!!


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