This is guaranteed to make you sick.

Want to know the cost of housing an inmate in New York City for a year? The same as it would cost to go to an Ivy League school for four years.

In short, about $167,731. And ironically that number is nowhere near short.

A recent report found that the city’s annual cost-per-inmate equals the shocking amount of an Ivy League education and that’s due to New York’s notorious lock-up area, Rikers Island.

“Other cities don’t have Rikers Island,” said Martin F. Horn, who in 2009 resigned as the city’s correction commissioner, noting that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent a year to run the 400-acre island in the East River next to the runways of LaGuardia Airport that has 10 jail facilities, thousands of staff and its own power plant and bakery.

According to AP:

The city’s Independent Budget Office annual figure of $167,731 — which equates to about $460 per day for the 12,287 average daily New York City inmates last year — was based on about $2 billion in total operating expenses for the Department of Correction, which included salaries and benefits for staff, judgments and claims as well as debt service for jail construction and repairs.

And why is Rikers so expensive?

The department spends $30.3 million annually alone on transportation costs, running three bus services that usher inmates to and from court throughout the five boroughs, staff from a central parking lot to Rikers jails and visitors to and around the island.

And get this. There were 261,158 inmates delivered to court last year. Which means a lot of money.

To put things in perspective, here’s a list of what other major cities spend on their inmates:

Los Angeles spent $128.94 a day, or $47,063 a year, for 17,400 inmates in fiscal year 2011-12, its sheriff’s office said. Chicago spent $145 a day, or $52,925 a year, for 13,200 inmates in 2010, the most recent figures available from that county’s sheriff’s office.

Yikes. Something is definitely wrong with the distribution of money here.


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