U.S. Prison Costs Essay example

1610 Words Sep 8th, 2010 7 Pages
U.S. Prison Costs

After reading the essay, “A Homemade Education,” an autobiography of Malcolm X, I became quite curious about how many dollars America spends toward the prison system and how it affects our society. The autobiography itself covers how Malcolm X gained a homemade education simply by reading books while serving time in prison. He claimed, “I don’t think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did…prison enabled me to study far more intensively…sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day” (35). There may be privileges of being sent to prison as one can sit and read books, but the cost of keeping prisons running outweighs the benefits. According to the article Pew Center, the United States has 5 percent of the
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The second major key cost driver is payment for the officers who patrol cellblocks; especially to those who work overtime. Overtime costs in California “topped half a billion dollars in 2006, with 15 percent of the corrections workforce earning at least $25,000 in overtime that year” (Pew Center). Based on the same article there were six employees who earned more than the $212,179 annual salary set aside for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. To help the state from struggling to keep its 33 prisons staffed, Gov. Arnold proposed releasing more than 22,100 inmates before their terms are up. His proposal would save the state $1.1 billion.
The graying of the nation’s inmates is also an issue which continues to swell the cost of health care within the prison. According to the Pew Center, “…between 1992 and 2001, the number of state and federal inmates aged 50 or older rose from 41,586 to 113,358.” Older inmates are gradually making up a larger proportion of the overall count. While one may say that aging decreases criminal activity, such as those that result from communicable diseases mentioned from the previous paragraph, there are many more factors that should be considered. One problem is that older inmates are often preyed upon by younger, stronger inmates; therefore, older inmates may require special housing. Hearing and visual…