In fiscal year 2010, the average annual cost for an inmate in New Jersey’s state prisons was $54,865, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. Vera developed a methodology for calculating the full cost of prisons to taxpayers and computed the cost for 40 states that completed a survey.
When accounting for pension, healthcare, administrative, and capital costs, Vera found that New Jersey spent $1.4 billion in 2010 on its state prisons, of which 18 percent were costs outside the state Department of Corrections' operating budget. The average daily population at the prisons in 2010 was 25,822.
Among the states that completed Vera’s survey, New Jersey ranked second in terms of cost per inmate, behind New York’s $60,076. The average annual cost per inmate among states that completed the survey was $31,286; of those, the lowest cost per inmate was in Kentucky, which paid $14,603 in 2010.