Muffin-Gate and the Cost of Federal Prisons

October 7th, 2011

Very sharp post from Doug Berman.

While I am pleased to see that at least one Senator has enough time to double-check that DOJ is not wasting money on muffins, I continue to be disappointed (but not surprised) that nobody on Capitol Hill seems too concerned with the recent DOJ account (in its recent letter to the USSC) of how expensive and overcrowded federal prisons are right now.  Every single one of the 217,000+ prisoners in the federal system — more than half of whom are there serving time for federal drug offenses —  are each costing the American taxpayer $70 per day every day.  Some (much? most?) of that considerable federal prison expense — which totals more than $15 million every single day — is not obviously much more beneficial to the public than a few $16 muffins.

Of course, exploring whether taxpayers’ money was wasted on some muffins scores political points; exploring whether taxpayers’ money is wasted on keeping federal offenders in prison long than needed to serve public safety requires dealing with a lot of chalenging issues of public policy.  I guess we should not be surprised what ends up garnering congressional attention these days.