State prison inmate cost is $76 a day while TN pays counties $37 a day

According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, the average daily cost to house an inmate in state prison is $76 a day.  That is more than twice what the state pays counties to house state felons.  The state currently pays counties a daily per diem of $37.  It’s no wonder that the state is content with letting their felons be housed in local jails.  It makes their costs lower, their books look better and it frees up more money to spend elsewhere.

But don’t worry the state is here to help local governments out by increasing the daily per diem rate for housing state felons in local jails to $39 a day.  That’s a whopping $2 daily increase.  Never mind that, at $39 a day, the state still averages saving $37 a day.*  State lawmakers and officials need to be able brag about being good stewards of taxpayer money by keeping the state budget lower and having a $2 billion surplus of your money.

Some good news: statewide recidivism was down in 2016.


*The cost savings to the state may be less in counties with a contract for state sentenced felons.

One thought on “State prison inmate cost is $76 a day while TN pays counties $37 a day

  1. The Jail Studies Review Page 6 Refers to the BC jail as a “Debtors Prison”. Page 47 some counties are getting double the state per diem rate because the BC sheriff’s has insufficient data to support negotiations to increase our rate. Why is this?
    Page 62 BC jail is bordering on un-constitutional

    The contract existing between the marshall service and the BC sheriff is illegal.

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