Fifteen states of the 44 surveyed reported plans to close facilities or reduce their number of beds in fiscal year 2011, many as a result of a decreasing prison population. Six of these states have already closed facilities or parts of them. Delaware closed part of one facility by moving prisoners to a more staff-efficient housing unit; this has cut costs by eliminating 10 full-time positions. Rhode Island—which made several policy changes in 2008 designed to keep its inmate population from growing—has been able to shut some housing units, thereby decreasing staff overtime. Entire facilities have been shuttered in Georgia, Louisiana, and Connecticut. In Georgia, the 700-bed Bostick State Prison was closed; the state expects to save $6.7 million annually. In Louisiana, the Steve Hoyle Rehabilitation Center was closed, reception centers were consolidated, and the number of beds reduced at the Forcht-Wade Correctional Center.Inexplicably, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has so far refused to countenance prison closures, instead embracing suggestions for cuts that set the agency up to fail. If these other states can muster the political will, I see no reason why Texas can't.
The New York Department of Correctional Services plans to close three facilities and part of a fourth by April 2011. These closures are possible because of significant reductions in the state’s inmate population: it declined by 8 percent from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2009 and is projected to decline by another 1,000 individuals during the 2011 fiscal year. The state expects operational cost savings from these closures to total $3 million for the 2011 fiscal year and approximately $46 million for fiscal year 2012.
For fiscal year 2011 some states are cutting back on their use of private prisons. Privately contracted facilities may or may not result in cost savings and as such are the subject of debate. It also appears that as prison populations decline in several states, the factors that may make private facilities appealing as a solution to overcrowding are less relevant.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Other states closing prisons in wake of budget crunch
News that budget cuts have forced closure of a prison unit in Oregon for the first time in that state's history prompted me to take a second look at this recent report (pdf) from the Vera Institute of Justice titled "The Continuing Fiscal Crisis in Corrections," which reports that quite a few other states are taking similar steps: