Thursday, December 02, 2010

States seek to slash prison spending to stem budget shortfalls

Around the country, states are struggling with massive budget shortfalls which are forcing them to reconsider expensive prison spending. Here are a few examples of that phenomenon which caught my eye this morning:

In Florida, incoming Governor Rick Scott wants to reduce prison spending - currently at $2.5 billion per year - by a whopping $1 billion annually.

In Washington state, the governor and the Senate Republican Caucus have endorsed $55.4 million in cuts to the Department of Corrections "through staff reductions and program and prison consolidation." The state has also implemented inmate lockdowns one day per month as a money saving measure.

In Ohio, the prison system faces budget cuts even though "at 100 percent of current funding, the agency said it would have to cut 339 corrections positions and close prisons because of the expected increase in payroll costs"

In Oregon, a task force on the budget "proposes a re-examination of criminal-sentencing policies — Oregon has mandatory minimum sentences for some violent offenders, doubling the prison population in the past 15 years."

Michigan is closing prisons in part thanks to a successful reentry initiative that has reduced parolee recidivism by 27%. Overall, "during the past three years, the number of state inmates in Michigan has shrunk by 12 percent, reversing a sixteen-year trend of steady prison population growth"

In Rhode Island, "the state Department of Corrections is proposing to close high- and medium-security facilities."

In Vermont, "On the campaign trail, Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin said reducing corrections costs will be a cornerstone of his administration." (Of course, their entire prison population would fit inside one of Texas' larger units.)

In Indiana, lawmakers are "evaluating probation and parole supervision practices, community corrections and transition programs, the use of issue-specific courts including drug and family courts, and sentencing guidelines and requirements. Changes could include decreasing prison time for certain crimes; moving more offenders to community corrections and revamping the state's earned credit rules."

According to a recent report (pdf) from the Vera Institute of Justice titled "The Continuing Fiscal Crisis in Corrections," at least 15 states expect "to close facilities or reduce their number of beds in fiscal year 2011," and I suspect that number will continue to grow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that if texas slashed anything, the people who would suffer most would be the poor bastards in stir. The waste spending would, I think, continue relatively unchanged. I reckon commissary and phone price hikes would be instigated (again), dental/doctor visit costs would escalate, they'd probably fire some nurses, yada yada.