The Joint Committee on
Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review

Report # 458

Mississippi Department of Corrections’ FY 2003 Cost Per Inmate Day

Executive Summary


During its 1994 special session, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 2005 (now codified as MISS. CODE ANN. § 47-5-1201 et seq.) to address short- and long-term bed capacity within the state’s correctional system. The bill created the State Prison Emergency Construction and Management Board to expedite the contracting and construction of proposed public and private prison facilities authorized by the bill.

MISS. CODE ANN. § 47-5-1211 (3) (a) (1972) states:

No contract for private incarceration shall be entered into unless the cost of the private operation, including the state’s cost for monitoring the private operation, offers a cost savings of at least ten percent (10%) to the Department of Corrections for at least the same level and quality of service offered by the Department of Corrections.

This section also requires PEER to contract annually with a certified public accounting firm to establish a state cost per inmate day for a comparable state facility. Originally, cost was to be established for medium security inmates only. In subsequent years, MDOC has planned the housing of different classifications of prisoners and PEER has provided cost estimates for those classifications as well.

The law further requires that the state cost per inmate day be certified annually by a certified public accountant and that the certified cost be used as the basis for verifying the ten percent savings required for private contractor costs.

Chapter 964, Laws of 1996 (Local and Private), established the East Mississippi Correctional Facility Authority. The bill authorized such authority to contract with MDOC for the private incarceration in a psychiatric facility of up to 1,000 prisoners in compliance with the provisions of MISS. CODE ANN. Sections 47-5-1211 through 47-5-1227 (1972).

Cost Per Day Determination

Smith, Turner, and Reeves, P.A., provided cost per inmate day determinations for all security levels of inmates combined (i.e., MDOC’s general cost per inmate day) and also on the basis of security classification (i.e., minimum, medium, or maximum) of inmates. Smith, Turner, and Reeves also provided a cost per inmate day determination for a psychiatric facility.

MDOC’s FY 2003 general cost per inmate day for a 1,000-bed facility totaled $44.36 and included the following components:

Direct Costs:
  Basic housing & visitation:
    Salary costs               $20.51
   Other costs                   3.74
Education & training             1.59
Food                             2.37
Medical                          5.95
Parole Board                     0.07
Allocated administrative costs   2.56
  Total Operating costs        $36.79
Annual Debt Service              7.57
Total Average Daily Costs      $44.36

MDOC’s FY 2003 costs per inmate day for individual security classifications in a 1,000-bed facility were as follows: minimum security, $38.52; medium security, $41.44; and maximum security, $68.62. MDOC’s FY 2003 costs per inmate day for security classifications in a 500-bed psychiatric correctional facility were $53.19 for medium security and $72.31 for maximum security.

Negotiating Private Prison Payments

PEER believes MDOC should negotiate cost savings for private prison payments well below the ten percent mandated by state law.

PEER cautions the reader that, as required by law, the cost figures presented in this report represent actual costs to MDOC. State law also requires that private prisons represent at least a 10% savings to MDOC’s costs for the same level and quality of services. It should be noted that cost savings offered by private prisons may exceed the ten percent threshold. Therefore, when negotiating private prison payments, items borne solely by the state should be eliminated and due consideration given to reducing other costs in which the state bears additional or different costs than the costs incurred by private prisons.

Removal of Costs Borne Exclusively by the State

The Schedule of Average Daily Costs Per State Inmate by Security Classification on page 10 reports that the cost for a medium security inmate is $41.44. However, MDOC should remove a total of $8.42 (debt service costs of $7.57; records, inmate classification, and offender services costs of $.78; parole board costs of $.07) when negotiating private prison payments because these costs are borne solely by the state. (See Exhibit in PDFExhibit)

Negotiable Costs

An additional $10.10 (medical expenses of $5.95; administrative services of $2.56; education and training expenses of $1.59) represents negotiable costs for which MDOC may be able to negotiate a savings greater than the ten percent mandated by law. (See Exhibit in PDFExhibit)

Private prisons pay for the first seventy-two hours of medical care for inmates. After this period, the state bears the costs for seriously ill inmates. Therefore, additional savings may be achieved by negotiating this time below the ten percent savings mandated by law.

The administrative responsibility of the state differs from that of the administrative function of private prisons. Therefore, administrative cost represents an area that may contribute savings beyond the ten percent mandated by law.

MDOC uses certified teachers for adult basic education and vocational education programs. Private prisons are not required to use certified teachers. Therefore, the cost associated with education and training represents an area that may contribute to savings beyond the ten percent mandated by law.

PEER believes that private prison contracts should yield savings significantly above the ten percent required by law. See a table in PDFtable for examples of areas where savings may be achieved from more efficient contracting.

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