According to a survey conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, the average U.S. taxpayer cost per prison inmate is $31,286, as of 2012. The study, conducted among 40 states, calculates the cost of prison operations at $39 billion annually.
This figure is $5.4 billion more than the budget these states allocated to corrections on paper. States' spending outside their budgets varied wildly, with Connecticut, for example, spending 34 percent more than its outlined budget. Among the states surveyed in the study, New York spends by far the most per prisoner, at nearly $60,000 per year. New York City itself spends over $167,000 per year to feed, house, clothe and guard each inmate.