In total, among all known exonerees, Americans have shelled out a staggering $4.12 billion to incarcerate innocent men and women since 1989, according to a Yahoo Finance analysis. That’s largely money spent on trials, and the cost of housing inmates in prison. According to the Bureau of Prisons, in the fiscal year 2017, the average cost to house a prisoner was over $36,000 a year in federal facilities.
But black men make up the majority of those wrongfully convicted — approximately 49%. And since 1989, taxpayers have wasted $944 million to incarcerate black men and women that were later found to be innocent. That number climbs to $1.2 billion when including Hispanic men and women.
On average, from the time a person enters the criminal justice system until they are exonerated, $1.26 million is spent per inmate who is facing the death penalty. In cases where there is no capital punishment charge, the cost drops to $740,000. With 123 exonerated inmates previously on death row, roughly $155 million was spent to incarcerate them. An additional $1.7 billion was spent to incarcerate the remaining 2,392 people that weren’t facing the death sentence. In total, before compensation was factored in, just under $2 billion was spent to imprison innocent people