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by Peter Moskos

June 23, 2010

Cost of Booking

Here's another simple number we should know but really don't: What's it cost to arrest somebody? Seems like it matters (at least to the taxpayer) if the choice is between a citation and an arrest.

Part of the problem in figuring this out is that the expense is divided between different departments, jurisdictions, and budgets (police, courts, sheriff, jail, prosecutor, and public defender). Another problem is there's not a simple turnstile that you pay to go through. There is some economy of scale, I would presume. In other words, reducing arrests by 10 percent would not cost the cost by 10 percent.

An article in the Arizona Republic today mentions some dollar figures. I'm not sure where they're from or how they were come up with, but here they are: "Bookings cost $192 per suspect and the city must pay about $72 per day for each inmate housed in county jails."

Now keep in mind Maricopa County is Sheriff Joe land and spends very little on jail. Rikers Island in New York City, by contrast, costs $190 per day. Regardless, jail figures are pretty easy to come up with because, well, they have a budget.

It's the booking cost that is more interesting and much harder to determine. Same with the cost of a court appearance. Still, for someone who spends a night or two in jail, the cost of each arrest is at least a couple hundred of dollars. Throw in a court appearance and we're probable pushing a grand.

[Anybody know if these figures are out there somewhere and I just haven't found them?]


Cleanville Tziabatz said...
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PCM said...
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Cleanville Tziabatz said...
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PCM said...

What you've just done once again, intentionally or not, is hijack the comment thread. It makes me kind of peeved.

I was hoping somebody would post something useful and instead I get what you always bring up: allegations of police lies and misconduct.

Can we please leave discussion of police misconduct to somewhere relevant?

I want to know what it costs to process somebody through central booking. What it costs to arrest somebody. And I'd be very interested in both the mean and median cost.

I'm spelling this now out to be clear, not snide:

I asked about the cost of booking a prisoner. A fair question.

You bring up a case where a police officer was accused of using excessive force. There was a lawsuit. Money was paid. The cop received an award. The mayor withheld an award. The police union is pissed.

A facinating story, indeed.... That has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING do with the cost of booking a prisoner. Right? So why'd you bring it up?

Can we move on?

Cleanville Tziabatz said...
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