In this 5 part series, thus far an overview of the First Step Act was detailed in Part 1. Part 2 covered several historic milestones.
This section uncovers the cost of incarceration and the direct monetary savings of the First Step Act. Sweat equity savings for families of incarcerated beneficiaries is also betrayed.
According to the Department Of Justice annual report published in the Federal Register, On April 30, 2018, the cost to incarcerate a convicted person is $94.82 a day. The annual cost, without healthcare needs being factored in or any type of prescription drugs is a draining $34,704.12. If an inmate has any type of health problems, such as asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart problems, add an additional minimum of $5900 annually. $40,604.12 a year is the astounding total to house me and others like me. The daily cost of incarceration for the 180464 inmates to date (taken from the population as of March 1, 2019, reported on the DOJ website) is $17,115,596. Imagine that. Seventeen million a day would go a long way if spent wisely.
What does this daily rate cover?
This rate that is equivalent to a stay at the Holiday Inn Express in most states for a day, covers a few things; an assigned bed, bedding, clothing, all undergarments, shoes or boots, three meals a day, the correction officers and other federal staff’s salaries; towels, and free education courses, including GED if needed, to name a few things. Psychology classes, counseling, and drug treatment programs are also a part of this forced daily per diem.
America has found a way to bill the taxpayers from federal taxes paid, to house the largest prison population in the world.
Who pays? You do.
Every American citizen that is employed pays a minimum annual amount of $280. This amount is taken from their federal income tax liability.
“Brad is working hard, and grinding to buy his first car in the spring.” Angela Wright of Lexington Camp told me proudly. I love to here about your men and women of incarcerated parents striving to make it without a parent. He is paying for our incarceration.
My daughter Johnetta works six days a week to earn extra hours to cover rising family food costs at a State Halfway House facility. Her hard work assists in buying my free food. I am able bodied, in excellent health, walking five miles a day, doing Yoga and Zumba. I am physically and mentally able to earn a decent wage to feed and cloth myself. Daily I put that burden on my family, and on other inmate’s loved ones. It doesn’t stop there. I make 23 cents an hour, and $20.00 a month from inmate employment. Every penny of my pay goes toward restitution payments, per federal statute.
Who covers the slack for necessities such as soap, deodorant, shampoo and toothpaste?
My friends and family. It is the same process with thousands of inmates housed in federal prison.
The First Step Act was created to slowly reduce the prison population within the next ten years. When you look at the numbers, you also have to look at the savings.
Approximately 2200 inmates are eligible for the First Step Act’s retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. Rounding it off and realistically calculating a release of 2000, the annual savings is $138,437,200. Once BOP fixes the wording of the statute that awards 54 good days to inmates instead of 47, 4000 inmates are scheduled for immediate release. That is a savings of $2,654,960 that is effective as soon as the Bureau of Prisons updates their files.
Lastly, the savings for Recidivism Reducing Programming begins at $761,404,600. This calculation was based on the 22,000 inmates that are currently housed at Federal Camps throughout the country. Campers are non-violent offenders, and automatically eligible to receive up to one year off of their sentence. This is the absolute minimum number because many inmates that are not at a Camp will also benefit from this component of the First Step Act.
The savings to taxpayers is a floor of $902,496,760. The actual number will be increased because these figures were calculated using the absolute minimum number of inmates to receive a benefit under the First Step Act.
There are future reports that will give the final figures of this initiative. However, the figures listed grants taxpayers a chance to view the potential savings.