Prison: The economic case for rehabilitation

Ever wondered how much it would cost to go to prison? We’ve done the maths for you 

How much does a place in prison cost? Source: Flickr, 1Slecta


The average annual cost of a prison place is £36,237, that might seem pretty steep but it’s actually falling. The cost to the taxpayer, however, is increasing year on year.


The cost of a rising prison population 

Over the last three years public sector prisons have delivered £263m in savings. Between 2009-10 and 2012-13 the cost of a individual prison place fell by ten percent. 

So why then is the tax payers bill rising?

The increasing prison population cannot keep up with cuts. The rise in the prison population represents an estimated additional cost of £1.22bn annually—over £40 per year for every UK taxpayer.


The cost of a reoffending 

Prison has a poor record for reducing reoffending—­45 per cent of ­adults ­are­ reconvicted­ within­ one year of release. For those serving sentences of less than 12 months this increases to 58 per cent. And over two-thirds of under 18 year olds are reconvicted within a year of release. Reoffending­ ­costs ­the­ economy between £9.5 and £13 billion a year.

The cost of women in prison 

When a woman is imprisoned often the social cost does not end there. Imprisoning ­mothers ­for ­non-violent ­offences­ carries a severe emotional cost to children and financial cost to the state of more than £17m over a 10 year period.

If alternatives to prison were to achieve an additional ­reduction ­of ­just ­6 percent­ in ­reoffending­ by­ women, the state would recoup the investment required­ to­ achieve­ this ­in ­just ­one­ year.


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