How Much Is It Costing You To Be In Prison?

The majority of us do not sit around and think about a stay in prison on a daily basis, but the inmate already incarcerated is thinking more about it these days. As taxpayers are growing more and more tired of footing the bill, states are turning to the prisoners themselves to offset some of the cost of housing them.

Some correctional facilities offer pay for jobs inmates perform inside the walls of the prison and in some institutions, it’s left up to family and friends to make sure their loved one in jail is taken care of. Below are some costs you should consider the next time you think about taking a free ride on the government via prison.

Staying In Touch

Unfortunately, there are many inmates who don’t enjoy the privilege of reaching out to friends and family on the outside. If you are one of the few who do, it’s going to cost you. There are several facilities that use communication services just for the prison system.

One of many is Securus Technologies. With this site, you can set up phone calls, email, and video chats. All of the above are charged to your loved one. The most popular use is the site’s prepaid calling system.

Here you are able to set up a prepaid amount of which an inmate can use to make collect calls from. The price per minute of a phone conversation is different from prison to prison, but averages out to about 25 cents per minute. It might seem like very little, but over a month of calling, you can incur a bill of $80-$100 on average.   

Food Costs

Do prisons feed their inmates? The short answer is yes. Each prison in the United States gets help from the federal government with providing the basics for each prisoner. However, if you have ever been in prison, you know that the selection of food is something most kids would pass up on and would send pregnant women everywhere to the bathroom with morning sickness in the third trimester.

So, providing a different food source is vital. One of the ways to do that is to have a friend or loved one send money to your commissary account. With this account, an inmate is able to buy food, stamps, and other things he/she might deem necessary to everyday life.

Depending on what you want to invest, food, in and of itself, could cost you hundreds a month. In most institutions, there is also an order form sent to the inmates, usually once every three months, where you can order up to 15lbs. of food and have it sent to them. The average package is $100.


Depending on how long or short your attorney manages to make your stay in prison, there is also the issue of clothing. Just like a free man, an inmate’s clothes wear, tear, and get stained. Shoes wear out and underwear and socks get religious after a while and need to be replaced. Some prisons are now charging up to $5 per pair of pants, $3 per shirt, and about the same for socks and under garments, as well.

This might not seem like much, but when you put this together with the cost of staying in touch and supplementing or replacing the prison food source, it is projected that the average family of a man/woman incarcerated will spend almost $6,500 a year. This is outside of their normal bills and the cost of taking care of the rest of their family.

The best way to avoid this, of course, is not to end up in prison in the first place. However, if you have made up your mind that it is an unavoidable thing, make sure to keep in mind the effect it will have on your friends’ and loved ones’ pocket books.

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