NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It costs the city more than $1 billion a year to run the Rikers Island jail – and the cost keeps going up, even as the number of prisoners goes down.

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported Tuesday, the inmate population at Rikers is the lowest it has been in more than 30 years. But a report by the office of city Comptroller Scott Stringer said the cost per inmate has more than doubled over the past decade.

WEB EXTRA: Read The Report

The cost of $732 per day is more than double the state and national average.

“Rikers isn’t just a moral stain on our city,” Stringer said. “It’s a budgetary black hole.”

A City Hall spokeswoman responded to Stringer essentially by saying reform costs money. They have invested in safety and skills programs for staff and inmates.

“New Yorkers are going to shake their heads when they realize the amount of money we are paying for 9,500 inmates on Rikers Island,” Stringer said.

He said he agrees with Mayor Bill de Blasio that Rikers has to close, but it should happen more quickly than de Blasio’s 10-year timeline.


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