Mapped: U.S. States by Cost Per Prisoner

@Sakura please summarize this article, thanks uwu.

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This article examines the wide variation in spending per prisoner across U.S. states, with costs ranging from just under $23,000 per prisoner in Arkansas to over $307,000 in Massachusetts.

Key Points

  • :us: The U.S. has a prison population of over 1.2 million inmates, with over $80 billion spent annually on prisons.
  • :moneybag: Spending per prisoner can vary greatly, from $23,000 in Arkansas to $307,000 in Massachusetts.
  • :world_map: Southern states have the highest incarceration rates, while Massachusetts has the lowest.

In-depth Summary

The article examines the wide variation in spending per prisoner across U.S. states, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It notes that over $80 billion is spent annually on prisons in the U.S., with a large portion going towards paying over 4,000 vendors that serve the criminal legal system.

The differences in spending are largely driven by factors like officer salaries, which can be double in high-wage states compared to lower-wage states. As a result, the cost per prisoner ranges from just under $23,000 in Arkansas to over $307,000 in Massachusetts.

The article also highlights that Southern U.S. states have the highest imprisonment rates, with Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas topping the list. In contrast, Massachusetts has the lowest incarceration rate of any state.


The article looks at how much different U.S. states spend on each person in prison. Some states like Massachusetts spend a lot more, around $307,000 per prisoner, while others like Arkansas spend much less, around $23,000 per prisoner. The article also shows that some states in the South have the most people in prison, while Massachusetts has the fewest.

Writer’s Main Point

The main point of the article is to highlight the significant differences in spending per prisoner across U.S. states, which can vary by over 10x from the lowest to the highest. This reflects the wide disparities in how the criminal justice system is funded and operated across the country.

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