Gitmo Costs $800K/Year Per Detainee

A guard looks on from a Gitmo watchtower. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/newshour/4809170654/sizes/m/in/set-72157624536704376/">Newshour/Flickr</a>

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The Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg, returning to Gitmo for the arraignment of alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, reports how much the island prison is costing American taxpayers these days.

“The Pentagon detention center that started out in January 2002 as a collection of crude open-air cells guarded by Marines in a muddy tent city is today arguably the most expensive prison on earth, costing taxpayers $800,000 annually for each of the 171 captives by Obama administration reckoning.

That’s more than 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.”

Just to put that in perspective, while each Gitmo detainee costs close to a million dollars per person annually, inmates in federal prisons cost about $25,000 per person. Even in our supposed age of austerity, with Republicans demanding cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and turning Medicare into a voucher plan, there’s always money to waste on an elaborate island prison for thirty times the cost it would take to lock people up here. 

Still, closing Gitmo has grown unpopular as Republicans have repeatedly raised the specter of terrorists somehow escaping. The irony is that with only 171 detainees left, there are more convicted international terrorists in federal prisons in the United States than there are detainees remaining at Gitmo. 

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