Juvenile incarceration is way more expensive than tuition at a private university

Alternatives To Juveniles Behind Bars

Putting kids in jail is expensive.

The annual cost of youth incarceration for a single individual is $112,555, according to the annual report of the Council of Economic Advisers.

That's about 3.5 times the average tuition and fees at a four-year, non-profit private university ($32,405), and almost five times the average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year public university for an out-of-state student ($23,893), according to the report's data.

The cost of incarceration is also more than 11.5 times the average for a year of Head Start ($9,770), and about nine times the cost of an average year of public school ($12,508).

juvenile incarcerationImage: Council of Economic Advisers

The huge expense of juvenile incarceration suggests that investment in early and upper level education is beneficial to society as a whole as well as to individual children.

"Underinvestment in children's health and human capital in their earliest years can become more costly for society later in children's lives," the CEA's report notes.

"Societal efforts that attempt to intervene later in life, for example through remedial education or the juvenile justice system, tend to be less cost-effective than interventions that help children get, and stay, on the right track in the first place," the authors continued.

The CEA report goes on to note that there is evidence that suggests investments in early childhood education may reduce involvement with the criminal justice system and lower the social costs of crime and incarceration.

These improvements in children's development could also reduce the need for special education placements and remedial education. Some of the early childhood investments like Head Start, which offer access to health services, have also helped improve the health of participants, according to the report.

Early investment in children also makes good fiscal sense on the revenue side of the ledger as well. The CEA writes (emphasis ours):

"Finally, public investments in young children, such as preschool, public health care, and income transfers, have been shown to improve children's long-term earnings potential .... When the children who receive these investments grow up, they pay more in taxes and are less likely to receive public assistance. As a result, making these early investments would actually increase revenue and reduce government expenditure over time."

Check out the full report from the CEA here.

Related: A look inside the reality of incarceration in the United States:

Reality of incarceration in the U.S.
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Juvenile incarceration is way more expensive than tuition at a private university
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 11: Undocumented immigrant Jose Reyes Robledo, 42, Mexico poses for a portrait as he serves time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County Tent City jail on March 11, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. He said he has lived in Phoenix and previously San Diego as an undocumented immigrant for 20 years. He is married with three children and was born in the United States. He was arrested and charged in Maricopa County on July, 2012 for armed robbery with a deadly weapon. As an undocumented immigrant with a criminal record, he may likely be deported to Mexico after serving his jail sentence. President Barack Obama's administration deported a record 1.5 million people during his first term of office with 55 percent of deportees in 2012 having a criminal conviction for drug offenses or driving under the influence, according to U.S. immigration officials. The Maricopa County Tent City jail, run by county Sheriff Joe Arpaio, maintains a controversial policy of issuing striped uniforms and pink undergarments to inmates, despite an ongoing court challenge. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A Homeland Security Officer(L) talks with detainees inside Homeland Security's Willacy Detention Center, a facility with 10 giant tents that can house up to 2000 detained illegal immigrants, 10 May 2007 in Raymondville, Texas. The 65 million USD facility was constructed as part of the Secure Border Initative last July and now where many of the former 'catch and release' illegals are detained for processing. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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