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Inmates in Mississippi prisons cost...

Inmates in Mississippi prisons cost over $59 per day

By: Anne Summerhays - December 26, 2022

The cost per inmate day is based on security requirements, medical, food, facility management and maintenance, and administrative costs.

During its 2012 Regular Session, the Mississippi Legislature passed H.B. 440, which requires the cost per inmate day calculation to occur every two years and requires development of a current cost-based model for the calculation.

In December, the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER Committee) released its report titled, “Mississippi Department of Corrections’ FY 2022 Cost Per Inmate Day.”  The report serves as the model for the basis of the cost per inmate day calculation.

For FY 2022, MDOC’s cost per inmate day for a model facility totaled $59.24 based on the security requirements of the facility and MDOC’s medical, food, facility management and maintenance, and administrative costs.

“The State of Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC or the Department) has the responsibility for the care, custody, training, supervision, and treatment of offenders committed to the Department and to plan, develop, coordinate, and manage a statewide comprehensive correctional system,” the report explained.

PEER analysis notes an increase in the operating costs for security personnel of approximately 30%. Those costs increased from $20.66 for FY 2020 to $26.77 for FY 2022.

MDOC includes the following facilities:

  • Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP)
  • Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF)
  • South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI)
  • Marshall County Correctional Facility (MCCF)
  • Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGCF)

PEER reviewed the results of the Mississippi Department of Corrections Schedule of Average Daily Costs Per Inmate Day for a Model Facility.

“As a component of its oversight, PEER reviewed the results of the Mississippi Department of Corrections Schedule of Average Daily Costs Per Inmate Day for a Model Facility,” the report states. “PEER analysis notes an increase in the operating costs for security personnel of approximately 30% (i.e., costs increased from $20.66 for FY 2020 to $26.77 for FY 2022).”

MDOC attributed this increase in cost to a new scheduling model utilizing 12-hour shifts and the implementation of the state’s new compensation system.

PEER analysis showed that cost for non-security personnel declined by approximately 36%, meaning per-inmate costs decreased from $7.24 in FY 2020 to $4.65 in FY 2022.

“MDOC reported that the facility expenditures utilized to provide historical costs for the FY 2022 report were based on expenditures for an increased inmate population,” the report states. “However, as highlighted on pages 10 and 11, non-security personnel costs may be unrelated to the number of inmates housed in a facility (i.e., additional inmates may not necessitate the hiring of additional office/clerical personnel). This means that similar year-to-year operating costs may have been allocated over a larger inmate pool, resulting in a lower cost per inmate calculation.”

The report noted that MDOC should negotiate private prison contracts to yield savings significantly greater than the 10% required by law.

“State law requires that private prisons represent at least a 10% savings to MDOC’s costs for the same level and quality of services,” the report continued. “It should be noted that cost savings offered by private prisons may exceed the 10% threshold. Therefore, when negotiating private prison contract per diems, items borne solely by the state should be eliminated and due consideration given to reducing other costs in which the state bears additional or different costs than the costs incurred by private prisons.”

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: