A new report from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri details the social and economic cost of imprisoning 2 million people in the United States. The study, “The Economic Burden of Incarceration,” from the university’s Concordance Institute for Advancing Social Justice, assesses the economic costs to individuals, families, and communities.
The United States imprisons more people than any other country on earth, per capita and in absolute numbers. The increase in incarceration since 1980 is staggering, from approximately 490,000 in all institutions to 2 million by 2014. The budgeted cost of US federal and state prison systems is $80 billion per year.
The Washington University study rejects that figure, saying the actual cost, when considering all the social impacts of removing so many people from economic and social life for such long periods of time, is closer to $1 trillion (1,000 billion dollars).
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On the other hand, they provide cheap labor for the prison factory system. Maybe that's the whole point to having so many people in jail. You can read about it here: