Paying your dues, the price for incarceration
often making less than a dollar a day, the expenses of incarcerated people and their families far outweigh what they make, a study from the Prison Policy Institute
We go to the Prison Policy Institute for a new report on New York prisons and the toll taken on people and their families who are forced to pay for their own incarceration. The report contains research from recently conducted interviews with fifty-one formerly incarcerated men in New York. Below are excerpts from the report.
“I would not celebrate Thanksgiving, nor any other holiday. I don’t even celebrate holidays. I don’t celebrate New Year’s. I don’t celebrate any of that stuff, not in prison. I did no celebrating in prison. Every day was a living hell.”
As states continue to cut public spending, individuals are often expected to pay money to meet their basic needs in confinement facilities.
Most states spend less than $4 per day to feed one incarcerated person.
Most of our interviewees estimated that they needed at least $175 per month to get by.
Respondents reported making on average less than $0.25 per hour, or about $31 per month, from in-prison employment, none could reach a monthly “living wage” without regular support from friends and family.
[18 interviewees] said they could count on steady financial support from their loved ones.
[22 interviewees] said they received some support but that it was not regular and/or not always sufficient to cover basic needs.
11 participants reported receiving little to no support during most of their sentences.
The food provided by the prison, everybody agreed, was insufficient, unhealthy, and sometimes inedible.
Without regular access to commissary and telecommunications, people are more vulnerable to the negative health and psychological harms associated with a prison sentence.
“I could never accomplish much while I was in there, he explained, because my stomach was always hurting, I could never get my body physically right. I was just deteriorating, day after day.”
Read the whole study here.
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