It Cost U.S. Taxpayers Over $1 Million To Keep Charles Manson In Prison For 46 Years

Keeping cult leader Charles Manson in prison for 46 years cost American taxpayers an estimated from $1 million to $1.7 million. The mass murderer and cult leader received three meals a day, medical care, and 24-hour guard supervision, all paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

For nearly five decades, American people spent more than $1 million to keep Charles Manson locked up in the Protective Housing unit at California State Prison-Corcoran. The cult leader died Sunday of natural causes at age 83.

Manson orchestrated a series of heinous murders in the 1960s and amassed a large following, called Manson Family. In August 1969, Manson and his followers murdered seven people in a gruesome two-night crime spree in Southern California. After the infamous killings, Manson may have used his influence over his drugged and adoring followers to carry out more heinous murders, prosecutors believe.

Charles Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times. The hippy cult leader was convicted of seven dreadful murders committed by Manson Family. Manson was originally sentenced to death in 1971, but was later taken off death row.

Fortune journalist Lucinda Shen estimated on Tuesday that keeping Charles Manson in California prisons for more than 45 years cost American taxpayers over $1 million. Although Shen argues that it “may be impossible to calculate the exact sum,” official records from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) give at least some idea of how much Manson’s imprisonment cost taxpayers.

Charles Manson is taken to the Los Angeles court room to his trial in 1970
Keeping Charles Manson in prison for nearly five decades cost taxpayers over $1 million. [Image by Wally Fong/AP Images]

According to Shen’s findings, citing records from the CDCR, California paid a cumulative $1.7 million per prisoner from 1971 to 2017. Charles Manson and three of his followers went on trial in Los Angeles on June 16, 1970.

While the cost per inmate varies from one individual to another, the sum includes the entire cost of the prison system annually, divided by the inmate population. Another fact that may have driven up the cost of Charles Manson’s prison term is that he was locked up in the Protective Housing unit at California State Prison-Corcoran. The Protective Housing unit houses famous prisoners whose safety could be in jeopardy in the general prison.

In addition to that, Manson was in poor health and received medical care funded by taxpayers. Back in January, Manson was hospitalized in Bakersfield with gastrointestinal issues and was even supposed to have surgery for intestinal bleeding, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The cost of keeping Charles Manson in prison for 46 years would have been much higher if the mass murderer was on death row. According to a 2011 study by two experts who looked into death row expenses, including trial costs and appeals, the cost of keeping death row inmates is 20 times higher than that of life sentence prisoners.

For example, under state laws in California, the state is required to pay death row prisoners’ attorneys up to $300,000 for each appeal.

[Featured Image by Uncredited/AP Images]