Presents comparative data on the cost of operating the Nation's state prisons. The study is based on institutional corrections elements of the Fiscal 1996 Survey of Government Finances which State budget officers reported to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. State-level spending is presented on prison employee salaries and wages; employer contributions to employee benefits; supplies, contractual services, and other operating costs; capital expenditures, e.g. building construction, renovations, major repairs, and land purchases. Additional data reveal amounts spent on food, inmate programs, inmate medical care, transportation and travel, and utilities.