Community Corrections

VII. Daily Cost of Community Corrections Programs

A grand total of $62 billion is spent on the punishment and treatment of 7 million offenders every year. Jails and prisons are the most expensive forms of punishment, costing between $50 and $100 per day per person depending on the level of custody and the region of the country (Alarid & Reichel, 2008). Jails and prisons also consume most of the correctional budget. Very little, if any, of that cost is subsidized by the offender.

Most community corrections programs are subsidized in part by the offender and thus are considered more cost-effective. Starting with a base cost for probation supervision at $1 per day for low supervision, probation can range up to $15 per day per person for intense probation supervision. In each case, the offender pays for about 10% of the cost. Pretrial supervision costs are generally lower than probation. Day reporting centers also vary widely, from $10 to $100 per day per person.

Other programs such as electronic monitoring require that additional staff be hired to supervise the technological devices, at an estimated cost of $4 to $20 per day, depending on the amount the offender pays. Typical home-based electronic monitoring supervision costs the offender nearly $10 per day, and GPS monitoring is about $16 per day (Alarid et al., 2008).

Residential community correction programs are significantly higher. A prerelease program may cost $45 to $60 per day, but one third of that cost is subsidized by the offender. A correctional boot camp is by far the most expensive option, costing more than jail or prison, with no financial support from the offender. As a result, the number of correctional boot camps has declined over the years because the benefits were not outweighing the high costs.

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