It is not easy to isolate an exact number for how much the Texas government spends on prisons.
This is because some of the money that Texas spends to run its prisons comes from parts of the state’s budget outside of the specific budget for the Department of Criminal Justice. Examples include the cost of benefits for prison workers, the cost of capital for prisons, and legal costs. It is not always possible to get numbers for these categories, because they are not part of the budget designated for funding incarceration.A nonprofit organization, the Vera Institute of Justice, examines state governments all over the country to learn about what they spend for incarcerated prisoners. In total, Texas spends 2.
5 billion dollars in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s budget for prison expenditures. On top of that, Texas needs to pay for the retirement benefits and health benefits of prison workers outside that budget. Both of these systems are underfunded- Texas will need to fully fund all the money that it is obligated to spend for these benefits in the future, and it will need to pay interest the longer it waits. These employee benefit payments and obligations total about 500 million dollars.
The state also needs to pay money to service loans that it took out to support the prison system, as well as pay for administrative costs of running prisons. Overall, the state pays about 3.3 billion dollars. This is a low estimate, because the costs of judgements and legal claims cannot be estimated.
All of these numbers reflect the 2010 fiscal year.