The number of people serving life sentences in U.S. prisons has nearly quintupled since 1984, according to a new report, Still Life: America’s Increasing Use of Life and Long-term Sentences.
Ashley Nellis, senior researcher for the Sentencing Project and author of the report, told ABC News that underneath the numbers is a large bill for U.S. taxpayers, according to her research.
“A prisoner who starts his or her sentence in their 30s will, on average, cost the state $1 million per year,” Nellis told ABC News.
She said that part of the expense of incarcerating people for life is that they become more expensive with age.
“Many people enter prison in poor health to begin with,” Nellis said. “Then prison itself is hard on a person’s health, and they’re being cared for into their geriatric years.”
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