Guantanamo Bay is the world's most expensive prison

The total US tab for housing enemy combatants will top $5.2 billion by 2014.

By Jonathan Berr Aug 2, 2013 10:40AM
The exterior of Camp Delta is seen at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. (© Bob Strong/Reuters)Guantanamo Bay (pictured), where the U.S. government holds some of history's worst mass murderers, is the most expensive prison the world has ever seen, with a total price tag expected to top $5 billion next year.

According to The Miami Herald, citing new figures from Democrats calling for Guantanamo's closure, the Pentagon spends about $500 million annually on the modern-era Devil's Island. That works out to $2.7 million per prisoner. There are about 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, including the confessed mastermind of the 9-11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Senator Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who has long advocated for the prison's closure, told the paper that the America's most secure prison, the so-called Supermax in Florence, Colo., costs about $78,000 per year to operate on a per-prisoner basis. That facility has 439 prisoners. 

As Quartz notes, one reason why Guantanamo is so expensive is its location within the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Everything from supplies to judges must be shipped more than 1,000 miles from Washington, D.C. The prison's staff includes members of the military, the Department of Justice, the FBI and probably the CIA. 

The paper quotes Durbin as saying that the costs "would be fiscally irresponsible during ordinary economic times. But it's even worse when the Department of Defense is struggling to deal with the impact of sequestration, including the furloughs and cutbacks and training for our troops."

He has a point, no?

Guantanamo Bay was supposed to be temporary when it first opened in 2002. The facility has grown considerably and now includes a secret lock-up for ex-CIA prisoners called Camp 7, whose costs are considered classified, the Herald said. About 779 people have done time at Guantanamo, according to Human Rights Watch.

When he first ran for office, President Obama called for the prison's closure. He backed off on the idea after Republicans balked. Now, it appears as though he is warming to the idea again.

Human Rights First estimates there are 355 terrorists behind bars in U.S. jails, which underscores that money used to operate Guantanamo is not well spent. No one has escaped.

For now, though, Guantanamo Bay isn't going anywhere and its costs continue to climb. The Department of Defense has requested almost $200 million to upgrade the facility.

--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

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Aug 2, 2013 1:48PM
$200.00 dollars of AMMO will fix the problem permanently.   Americans will be safe and the TAX PAYERS will save Billions of dollars.
Aug 2, 2013 2:13PM
Our government is really good at spending money.  Why do even our cheapest prisons spend more per prisoner than the average American household makes per year?  Unacceptable.
Aug 2, 2013 2:07PM
Aug 2, 2013 10:48AM
didnt obama promise to close this?  so another lie by this prez.
Aug 2, 2013 11:51AM
There is no way that operating this prison should cost $500 million a year. Especially compared to the $78,000 Colorado prison. We've had Gitmo operational for decades, prison or no prison. So we're still going to pay something for it's operation no matter what. Is that baseline funding subtracted from the $500 million or is this another propagandist story? I have difficulty putting any trust in these stories because too many of these journalists are biased and their writing reflects that. I don't trust Durbin at all because he always twists facts to forward an agenda. We need to close Gitmo but politics must be removed from the process. Gitmo has been a political hot-potato ever since the first detainee landed. Stop the politicizing of this issue and maybe something will get done.
Aug 2, 2013 1:50PM

$500 million a year (excluding the unknown costs of the CIA, classified, BS this is America and that should be public)? And does that include all the new construction costs or is that just operations? Either this story is full of $hit or somebody is screwing the government over big time. I know it is remote and I would expect it to not be cheaper like the one in Florence (where most of those animals should've been put down immediately following their trials but the broken justice system is another story) but why it costs this much I don't know, on top of needing more upgrades? Like I said hasn't that already been going on? Regardless we piss away so much money with the DOD its just sad. Our government needs serious reforms and the waste and nonsense has got stop. Fat needs trimmed badly.

I think its time

Aug 2, 2013 1:51PM
Perhaps if we would stop treating the so called detainees like prima donnas and begin to treat them like the murdering i slamic ex tremists that they are we could make significant reductions in the costs.  I have heard it stated that it costs $800,000 per year to maintain one prisoner for one year at Gitmo but I honestly believe a faulty value system is used when the American people are told that it costs twice that amount to maintain two prisoners.  Stop paying high priced lawyers to represent these ter rorists and that too will reduce the costs.  Do what must be done, more fast food and less catered meals but keep them from the American mainland.
Aug 2, 2013 1:50PM

Turn it into a zoo for tourists to look at terrorists. That will help with the costs.

Aug 2, 2013 1:55PM

"Write a comment"  Ok, will do..... 

Gitmo and it's huge costs is nothing but business as usual for our incompetent government and entitled politicians with their insatiable tax and spend mindset... and headed up by Dear Leader OBummer who doesn't blink an eyelash at spending $100,000,000 of tax payers money to take the family and his entourage on a trip to Africa. 


Aug 2, 2013 2:29PM
Has anybody seen our Government do anything cheap?
Aug 2, 2013 2:26PM

While none of the 335 behind bars on U.S. soil have escaped, if one of them does, there will be hell to pay for the damage he does.

There is NO escape from Guantanamo...since they would be in the middle of a base full of Marines with orders to shoot to kill ANY escapee! And even if they eluded Marines long enough to get off the base, where are they going to go? It's a long swim to anywhere!


And why fly in supplies and judges from D.C.? Fly them in from Miami. There are federal judges in Miami, and plenty of places to get food supplies as well. Shorter trip means less fuel and less hours...which equals less money.


Leave the scum on the island. In fact...I have a list of some others who can join them there!

Aug 2, 2013 2:02PM
Did I write stupid US government-- I meant morally, financially and incompetent bankrupt US government. 
Aug 2, 2013 2:24PM
I am not really buying these stats. Where is the money really going? Military runs it and we all know they get paid garbage. Biggest cost would be energy and upkeep. More money being stolen from the American people.
Aug 2, 2013 2:07PM
It cost alot to run prisons but  it won't get cheaper untill we start getting rid  of all the trash that shouldn't be let out! Murderers, rapist, child molesters, terrorist, ****ers and the drug mules and their bosses!!!! Almost forgot any mob members!!!! All these scum do is rack up cost in police,court members and prisons!!!! See what I'm gettting at, no bad guys, no cost!!!! I might be a little extreme, but deep down you want it too!!!!! Damn I wonder what that world would be like!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug 2, 2013 2:36PM
Obama and Holder should both be locked up in that prison right now for the acts of treason that they have committed !!!!!
Aug 2, 2013 1:59PM
Leave it to the US government!  of course it is the most expensive prison in the world.. the stupid US government is not only high-jacking the public again on this one, but it is PAYING EACH PRISONER several hundred dollars per month.. How insane is that!?  Go ahead and ask them, then use the Freedom of Information Act and get the truth.. 
Aug 2, 2013 2:20PM

are they still on a food strike. if so cost should have gone down considerably. what costs so much to house criminals. certainly not here in the states. military get set pay so, again why so much?


Aug 2, 2013 1:57PM
Whoever in government that actually signs off in law for this kind of experience has no business in government, has little regard for the people's resources and finally takes war and warmongering lightly.
Aug 2, 2013 1:41PM
Never going to close........................
Aug 2, 2013 4:13PM
In 2008 Obama promised to close Gitmo immediately upon election and in the same breath promised to honor habeas corpus.  Two elections and five years later, he is still in violation of both promises.  Did we vote for the lesser of two evils, or the better of two liars?
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