posted on May, 6 2009 @ 07:54 PM
Based on several years of doing cost reporting for a nursing home chain (please, no jokes about possible similarities to prisons!), I'd wager that
those $40,000+ figures for the cost of holding an inmate for one year have a lot more to them than the cost of his or her uniforms, meals, and the
cable TV bill. It probably includes a pro-ration of the physical plant's maintenance cost (You have to keep the prison buildings cleaned and
repaired), a pro-ration of the staffing and administrative cost (the warden, guards, and other workers really like to get paid), and several other
little items that I don't know about. Most of the cost isn't 'luxury items' like cable TV or internet access, it's the overhead cost of the
prison as a whole.
I think there's more than enough fodder for discussion on the subject of whether inmates are 'coddled' or not, but frankly, the cost-based
arguments are among the least convincing, at least to me. Again, based on experience in cost-accounting, I'd wager that the cost of most of the
"luxury items" in the prison look like rounding errors compared to the cost of the prison itself. The article on "the prison of the future" linked
above in this thread tells me that I'm at least close to the right track...it sounds like the place was designed and built to minimize staff size
(personnel costs are *always* a huge part of any facility's budget). I'd expect that trend to continue in prison design...more reliance on automated
systems and reduced staff sizes to cut costs. increasing compartmentalization of the inmate population (which is just another way to cut staff).