As we rocket toward the mayoral primaries (just a couple more weeks, thank god), now's as good a time as any to delve a little deeper into the dusty corners of the city's finances. (We learned previously that $95,000 goes toward body bags. Who knew!) Today, the city's Independent Budget Office informed us that each individual prisoner sets the city back a eyebrow-raising $167,731.
A total of 12,287 inmates were housed in city cells last year, meaning the city paid more than $2 million to feed, house and guard the lot of them. New York state, which pays roughly $60,000 per prisoner, is the costliest in the country—and the city's expenditures weigh in at more than three times that figure.
Though it's tempting to think that the high price tag of life in city prisons is thanks to the luxe accommodations (at least one guy seems to just love it there!) well, it's not true: According to the Times, the culprit is actually the relatively well-salaried staff and their associated "wages, benefits and pension costs," in addition to the fact that there are many of them—around one guard for every two prisoners.
The Budget Office also went on to break down the purpose for the pricey prisoners' presence in the city's jails. The top charge is robbery, the study shows, and a whopping 93 percent of inmates are men. Seventy-six percent of those who pass through the bars are merely awaiting trial.