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How much does it cost to incarcerate an inmate?

California’s Annual Costs to
Incarcerate an Inmate in Prison

2018‑19

Type of Expenditure

Per Inmate Costs

Security

$35,425

Inmate Health Care

$26,665

Medical care

16,100

Psychiatric services

6,051

Pharmaceuticals

3,124

Dental care

1,389

Facility Operations and Records

$7,687

Facility operations (maintenance, utilities, etc.)

4,610

Classification services

2,109

Maintenance of inmate records

794

Reception, testing, assignment

150

Transportation

24

Administration

$4,840

Inmate Food and Activities

$3,733

Food

2,119

Inmate employment and canteen

997

Clothing

362

Religious activities

135

Inmate activities

120

Rehabilitation Programs

$2,478

Academic education

1,277

Cognitive behavioral therapy

742

Vocational training

459

Miscellaneous

$375

Total

$81,203

Detail may not add due to rounding.

  • It costs an average of about $81,000 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 $32,000 or about 58 percent. This includes an increase of $11,300 for security and $12,200 for inmate health care. Significant drivers of this increase in costs were employee compensation, activation of a new health care facility, and additional prison capacity to reduce prison overcrowding.


Last Updated: January 2019