Tag Archives: budget

KS: Even with some funds restored, Kansas correction officials worry about crime going up

From the article: “[T]he department still is losing millions, and state officials still worry that crime rates could go up as the dollars go down.”

Sometimes cutting the corrections department’s budget results in reduction in unnecessary and frivolous spending often found in big bureaucracies…and sometimes it’s a short-term solution with long-term greater costs to the community.

Read more on KS’ corrections budget here.

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OH: Changes cut prison medical expenses $26 million

From the article: “A report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee released yesterday showed that the number of inmate patient visits to nurses and doctors dropped by 25 percent last year from 2009.”

Key facts from the report include:

  • ·         Total DRC medical spending peaked in FY 2010, decreasing by 15.5% in FY 2012.

  •  In FY 2012, the DRC spent $67.7 million for state medical services payroll; $32 million was spent on contractors and temporary workers, including $11.8 million for dental staffing and services.
  • The number of inmates per health care worker has steadily decreased, from 65 in CY 2006 to 48 in CY 2012.
  • ·         In 2012, there were 133,923 Nurse Sick Calls and 115,505 Doctor Sick Calls across the DRC, a 25.5% and 29.6% decrease from 2009.

  • ·         Female institutions reported the greatest number of nurse sick calls in comparison to population (NEPRC), as well as the greatest increase in comparison to 2009 (DCI).

Read the article here.

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Lawmakers decry Iowa mental health prison closure

From the article: “The lawmakers who sent the letter expressed concern that prisoners with mental health needs don’t acclimate well to change and by mixing them with the general inmate population it could stimulate behaviors that create an unsafe the working environment for corrections staff.”

There are always tough calls in budget season and it seems as though mental health services generally takes a huge cut.

A spokesman in the Governor’s office is quoted as saying that the new plan:

“more effectively utilizes the department’s resources” and inmates with mental health needs “will receive similar, if not greater, mental health care under this new plan.”

In Ohio, it seems as though there’s a new mental health grand reorganization plan every couple of years, with each one promising greater efficiency and services, but when you step back, it looks like less and less.  I think the problem is that the mentally ill inmate population often don’t know how to advocate for themselves – medical care is an easy, generally identifiable and fixable problem, but mental health care is unseen.  Inmates with mental health issues can remain untreated as long as they are docile, quietly decompensating, and the more disruptive mentally ill are treated as high security risks and locked down.  I hope someone’s watching to see whether the state really does offer “similar, if not greater” mental health care.
Read more here.
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OH: State looks to private vendor to feed inmates

In a move to reduce costs in response to projected budget restrictions, both adult and juvenile prison systems in Ohio are looking to privatize their food service.  The adult system actually tried this in the past at a few institutions with disastrous results and then they reverted back to state service.  So…let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

For the adult system, this isn’t going to change too much because the food is pretty basic (don’t pay any attention to the pretty pictures in the article).  For the juveniles, though, the food is actually really good and the move to privatize can only negatively affect it.

Further, as the union president says, the food in a prison is nothing to trifle with.  It sounds trivial to your average outsider, but poor food has caused riots.

Read the article here.

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SC: Lee prison riots fuel a call for more funds

From the article: “Since April, inmates have taken over parts of the prison twice, capturing two outnumbered corrections officers and stabbing one. Wielding keys they made out of sawed-off parts of fiberglass shower stalls, inmates had slipped out of their dorms at night to pick up packages of drugs and cellphones that outsiders had thrown over the fences. Inmates used cellphones to coordinate the attacks on officers.”

Officials want to construct guard towers to keep watch for contraband being thrown over the fence, make repairs to facilities, and increase corrections’ officers salaries.

Read more here.
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Fewer inmates means Colorado may close more prisons

From the article: “Colorado’s prison population is falling so quickly that state officials are once again considering closing prisons — a tough discussion given that prisons are often big employers in the counties where they are located…Colorado is already at 7,500 fewer inmates than it once expected in 2013 and has closed three state prisons.”

I am amazed that Colorado has had such success, given that other states that have purposefully worked to reduce their populations (like Ohio) have been stumped.  According to the article, the state’s felony rates have dropped by a third.  The state has also passed legislation allowing inmates to earn more time off their sentences for good behavior.

Of course, as the article states, closing prisoners isn’t a win-win – or even easy.  The article mentions the loss of jobs for the counties in which the prisons are located, but my experience has been that the true issue comes with the combining of prison populations and the shifting of staff.  In this case, it appears that some of prisons were private, so those staff may have just been out of luck.  In Ohio, closures of prisons result in system-wide “bumping” of staff, as staff have the ability to bump into positions by seniority.  Inmates are generally unhappy with the changes, but it’s the staff who are generally truly disgruntled.  I haven’t seen a lot of news coming out Colorado, so they must have figured out the secret for how to close prisons effectively.

Read more here.
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Oklahoma prison officials seek increase in funding

From the article: “Oklahoma’s overcrowded prison system needs $6.3 million before the next fiscal year or it will start refusing to accept inmates from county jails and face a legal showdown, the head of the state’s prison system warned lawmakers Thursday.”

Read more here.

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PA: Corrections to Save $23 Million by Replacing Two Older Prisons

This is great news out of PA.  The system is shutting down two older facilities and opening a new facility.  They also state that the sentencing reform legislation is having a positive effect, resulting in a 500 reduction thus far.

Can’t say we’re doing so well in Ohio.  We’ve gone down by at least 500 inmates as a result of our sentencing reform legislation (HB 86), but that’s nowhere near what was expected.  Nor do we have the finances to construct new prisons.

Read the article here.

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Urban Institute: The Growth & Increasing Cost of the Federal Prison System: Drivers and Potential Solutions

Descriptive blurb: “The federal prison population exceeds 218,000, a tenfold increase since 1980. This massive growth is projected to continue and is accompanied by increasing costs, which account for 25% of the Department of Justice’s budget and edge out other important public safety priorities. This brief describes the main drivers of the federal prison population, half of whom are drug offenders. Front-end decisions about who goes to prison and for how long have the greatest impact, suggesting that reductions in sentence lengths -particularly for drug offenders – can most directly contain future growth. “Back-end” changes, such as increasing earned credits for early release, can also help alleviate the pressure. The federal system can learn much from state efforts to contain prison populations and costs; doing so will require the cooperation and support of numerous players across all branches of the federal system.”

Access the report here.  Read a related Washington Post blog here.


BJS Publication: State Corrections Expenditures, FY 1982-2010


  • Preliminary data from the Census Bureau’s annual State Government Finance Census indicate states spent $48.5 billion on corrections in 2010, about 6% less than in 2009. By comparison, states spent $571.3 billion on education in 2010 and $462.7 billion on public welfare.
  • From 1999 to 2010, among 48 states, 11 states showed a linear decrease in current operations expenditures per inmate, with an average annual decline of $1,093; 5 states had a linear increase, with an average annual additional cost per inmate of $1,277.
  • The mean state corrections expenditure per inmate was $28,323 in 2010, although a quarter of states spent $40,175 or more.

Go here to read the publication.