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How much does it cost to incarcerate an inmate?

California's Annual Cost to
Incarcerate an Inmate in Prison

2016-17

Type of Expenditure

Per Inmate Costs

Security

$32,019

Inmate Health Care

$21,582

Medical care

14,834

Psychiatric services

3,359

Pharmaceuticals

2,143

Dental care

1,246

Facility Operations and Records

$7,025

Facility operations (maintenance and utilities)

4,334

Classification services

1,798

Maintenance of inmate records

723

Reception, testing, assignment

145

Transportation

24

Administration

$4,196

Inmate Food and Activities

$3,484

Food

2,082

Inmate employment

823

Clothing

354

Inmate activities

102

Religious activities

123

Rehabilitation Programs

$2,437

Academic education

1,237

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

823

Vocational training

377

Miscellaneous

$93

Total

$70,836

  • It costs an average of about $71,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate in prison in California.
  • Over three-quarters of these costs are for security and inmate health care.
  • Since 2010-11, the average annual cost has increased by about $22,000 or about 45 percent. This includes an increase of $7,900 for security and $7,200 for inmate health care. This increase has been driven by various factors, including (1) employee compensation, (2) increased inmate health care costs, and (3) operational costs related to additional prison capacity to reduce prison overcrowding.