New York spends $168,000 a year on each inmate: study

NEW YORK CITY - New York City spent nearly $168,000 (S$213,000) per inmate in its jails last year, according to a report by an independent watchdog.

An average of 12,287 people a day were incarcerated in the city in 2012, more than three quarters of whom were awaiting trial, the report by the city's Independent Budget Office said.

Blacks accounted for 57 per cent of the city's jail population and Hispanics 33 per cent; barely seven per cent were white, the report said.

Males made up 93 per cent of the city's inmates.

In determining that the city spent nearly $168,000 per inmate last year, the report's authors factored in prison operating costs, the salaries and benefits of prison system employees, and the cost of servicing the debt for building and maintaining the prisons.

The findings come at a time when New York City is experiencing sharply falling incarceration rates, bucking a national trend.

The mayor's office reports that incarcerations have dropped 32 per cent over the past decade, a period in which they increased slightly nationally.

The city's incarceration rate in 2011 was 474 per 100,000, significantly lower than the national average of 650 per 100,000.