A Day in the Life of a Prisoner (Infographic)

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prison cell photo

As we’ve covered before on Donklephant, while the US justice system is one of the best in the world, it is not without flaws. Every once in a while someone gets wrongfully convicted. As John Adams famously said, “It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished”. But what of those who are convicted, and rightfully so, what fate awaits them?

Thanks to the folks at the Criminal Justice Degrees Guide, today we take a look at a day in the life of a typical prisoner along with some other interesting facts, such as:

  • What is the ratio of male to female prisoners?
  • What is the difference between private and public (government) correctional facilities?
  • What are the different types of inmates and how are they treated differently?

Click the image for full-sized version

  • Dan

    Why can’t prisoners be used to generate electricty by powering human driven turbines for exercise, to power their own facility (heat water? power their recreational devices tv? computers?) or even go back into the grid.

    This will be a SYMBOLIC contribution back into society, and a cost cutting measure. By no means am i thinking its slave labour, but more like a group exercise or march for few minutes a day each prisoner.

    If this was thoughtfully implemented, prisons could compete on how many kilowatts they generate back into the grid.

  • Alex F

    Excellent infographic; however, I take issue with your statement that private prisons are more cost effective and save money. The studies that have been done on that, including a GAO report, Abt Associates report, etc., have found equivocal or minimal savings when an apples-to-apples comparison is done between public and private prisons.

    Most recently, a 2010 Arizona state audit found that private prisons actually cost more than public prisons in that state. See this New York Times discussion of that research:


    There are some studies to the contrary, such as a Vanderbilt study — which was funded by CCA and APTCO (a trade organization for private correctional services companies); the funders were noted in the study itself, so it’s not a secret.

    You can’t just compare per-diem rates between private and public prisons. Though the privates often have lower per-diem rates, that’s because they don’t house maximum security prisoners, death row prisoners, women prisoners (in most cases, with limited exceptions) and prisoners with severe medical or mental health problems. All such inmates are housed in state prisons, however, which skews the average per-diem in public prisons upward because such prisoners are more expensive to incarcerate.

    A statement that private prisons are more cost effective, without any supporting citations or research, and while ignoring research to the contrary, ill serves your audience.

    Alex Friedmann
    Associate Editor, Prison Legal News (www.prisonlegalnews.org)
    President, Private Corrections Institute (www.privateci.org)