Prison Profits: Who Pays The Price?

It costs over $70,000 to incarcerate one person for one year in New York state. The New York City government spent $3.7 billion on jails and prisons in 2017. Why does it cost so much to keep people in prisons and jails? Who profits from prisons and jails? Where does the money come from?

In December 2018, CUP collaborated with Teaching Artist Marianna Olinger and students from the Bushwick Leaders’ High School to understand the cost of prison, who profits from it, and who pays for it. To investigate, students used art to create maps of the prison system, surveyed community members, and interviewed key stakeholders working on the issue. This booklet is a guide to what students learned about the true cost of prisons and jails.

Students debuted their project at the Bushwick Leaders’ High School, where they presented their project to freshman students and discussed how it impacted their perspective on prisons.

Get your own booklet here!

Check out more photos of the project process here!

What People Are Saying

“We did something constructive, positive, and conductive. It gave back positive feedback and helped us learn certain stuff about the prison that we didn’t even know before!” – Khari Foster, student

“My favorite part was the different ways you could participate in the projects. Like you could take photos, you could interview people that write about [prisons] or talk about it. It was more things to do.” - Eliah Perez, student 

“We usually read articles or watch videos about [topics] but with this we actually had more activities to do… I got to take pictures and go outside and ask questions about how the justice system works.”  -  Esteban Serrada, student


Anderson Almonte, Jon Luke Acosta, Eyman Alnajar, Hajer Alnajar, Daniela Arriaga, Stiven Aybar Santos, Emely Baez, Niurka Blacio, Isaiah Bruno, Jessica Caba, Christina Cephus, Pamela Clase Morillo, Dallelin Collado, Carlos Corsino Perez, Eury Corniel Peralta, Andrew Cruz Mercedes, Jennifer Cruz, Matthew Cruz, Brian Diaz, Edgar Feliz, Sergio Flores, Armando Flores Reyes, Khari Foster, Anthony Francisco, Jermaine Frazier, Emmanuel Fredericks, Diosty Garo, Osceri Giron, Andrew Gomez, Leslie Gomez, Janais Gonzalez, Jose Gomez, Javier Guerra Jr, Germary Hernandez Ovalles, Helen Hernandez Ovalles, Philip Hofmann, Alayna Holmes, Marquise Horne, Keren Huerta, Omar Jaiteh, Ashley Laurent, Roy Leon, Leticia Leonardo, Sharkim Lockwood, Karla Lozano, Matthew Madera, Mekhi Mansano, Jerry Marin, Stephanie Marquez, Juan Mayol Jr., Jennifer Martinez Donzalez, Grisvel Mena, Anaya Mongo, Esthefani Moran, Kia Morant, Jasson Muy Gomez, Yineidy Nunez, Antonio Onofre Diaz, Emely Ortiz Rodriguez, Justin Ospina, Ty-Ana Otero, Brianna Ozoria, Dany Pacheco, Neil Peraza, Eliah Perez, Yauris Pichardo Payano, Johanna Pichardo Marun, Luis Ponce, Saida Quispi Andagana, Alex Reyes, Kiara Reyes, Landy Reyes, Juan Reynoso, Johangel Reyes Lopez, Alex Rivera, Marianny Rivera, Jeremiah Rivera, Justin Rogers, Lisa Robles, Isiah Rodriguez, Jose Ridriguez, Smailing Rodriguez, Victor Rodriguez Bueno, Maria Rodriguez, Joel Rosario, Arieta Rosario Martinez, Richard Romero, Hilary Rosell, Joshua Ross, Victoria Ross, Kaliiah Russell, Elias Sanchez-Oropeza, Misiel Santelises, Andres Santos Rodriguez, Geovanny Soler, Jahquel Stubbs, Yasmin Umana, Josue Valle, and David Velez Maldonado.

Resources & Links

Bushwick Leaders’ High School for Academic Excellence will prepare ninth through twelfth grade students from the Bushciwk Community, regardless of prior academic performance, to become active leaders with an emphasis on academics, college preparation, and technlogy. 

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the Bay and Paul Foundations, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

Special Thanks

Leila Arisa, Clair Beltran, Jena Chakour, Tammy Gamerman, Daniel Girard, Eli Hager, Codi Haigney, Luke Noel, Stephen Pacheco, and Eve Stern


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Marianna Olinger
  • Project Lead
  • Fielding Hong
  • Project Support
  • Leigh Taylor
  • Bushwick Leaders High School
  • Classroom Teacher
  • Adam Sherfield

  • Principal
  • Catherine Reilly