Here in Marquette, the bar is set high for the bars we keep our prisoners behind. Both Marquette Branch Prison and Alger Max are some of the highest security level correction facilities in the state.
Marquette Branch is a level five, and Alger Max is a level four. The higher the security level, the more expensive the facility, costing taxpayers more. The average cost to house a prisoner in Michigan is $33,000. But in Marquette Branch and Alger Max, it costs nearly $41,000. The state department of corrections says the extra costs are completely necessary.
"Those prisons are higher security facilities that cost more because we have more staff providing the security, and there are fewer prisoners per staff member," said Michigan Department of Corrections representative, John Cordell.
About 80 percent of prison costs go to employee wages and benefits. So where else does our tax money go? In Michigan, $2.06 covers three meals per prisoner per day. And about $30 million covers education for prisoners statewide each year. That frustrates some of our viewers.
David Lillard posted on our Facebook page, "It shouldn't cost anything to take care of a prisoner; they should do something to cover the expense."
But the Department of Corrections insists that prisoner care is crucial.
"Almost 95 percent of these people who are in prison return to communities," Cordell said. "So we can't just lock them up and throw away the key because six years later, someone's going to unlock that door and let them out into the community, so we have to provide efforts to rehabilitate prisoners."
Right now, it costs around $7,000 a year to educate each student in our public schools. So at nearly $41,000 per prisoner per year, we are spending about six times as much on inmates at the Marquette prison and Alger Max as we are on students.