The Cost of Prisons

In “It Takes a Village,” an op-ed column in Friday’s New York Times, Charles Blow writes about the Dorothy Day Apartments in West Harlem:

Well, the  cost of the building plus renovations was $17 million. So if it  houses 190 people, that works out to about $89,500 a person, not including most of the children served by the day care center. But let’s put that into the context of prison construction, for  instance. According to the New York State Commission of  Correction, 1,000 new jail beds will have been built between the end of 2007 and the end of 2011 in the counties of Albany, Essex,Rensselaer and Suffolk at a cost of $100,000 per bed.

Furthermore, as Broadway Housing Communities points out on its Web site, “permanent supportive housing for an individual costs taxpayers $12,500 annually, compared to annual costs of $25,000 for an emergency shelter cot; $60,000 for a prison cell; and $125,000 for a psychiatric hospital bed.”

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