The conservative approach to criminal justice:
fighting crime, supporting victims, and protecting taxpayers.

The Hidden Costs of Prison

| January 27, 2012

In a new report, the Vera Institute suggests that the actual cost of prisons is, on average, fourteen percent higher than a typical state budget reveals. Vera surveyed 40 states during the 2010 fiscal year, and determined that in six states, including Texas, the actual cost of prisons is 20-34 percent higher than the state’s budget identifies. To reach this conclusion, Vera factored in several costs that aren’t often put into the corrections budget: state contributions to healthcare and pensions of employees who work within the prison system, capital costs (to construct and renovate prisons), and hospital and other healthcare costs for prisoners. According to Vera, when these costs are included, the actual cost of corrections among the 40 states surveyed is $5.4 billion more than the $33.4 billion claimed in corrections budgets.


RIGHT ON CRIME is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money. By sharing research and policy ideas and mobilizing strong conservative voices, we work to raise awareness of the growing support for effective reforms within the conservative movement. We are transforming the debate on criminal justice in America.