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August 4, 2009

A pair of timely reports on state correction costs

I recently received this summary of two new reports on state correction costs via e-mail from the fine folks at the Pew Center on the States:

With state budgets in dire straits and corrections expenditures consuming one in 15 state general fund dollars, sentencing and prison policies are receiving special scrutiny.  New publications from the Vera Institute of Justice and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), partners of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, describe several solutions that help to contain costs while preserving or improving public safety. 

Vera’s report, The Fiscal Crisis in Corrections: Rethinking Policies and Practices, reviews enacted FY2010 corrections budgets and recent state legislation. It finds that 22 state departments of corrections (of 33 that had enacted state budgets at the time of printing) experienced budget reductions and details how they have absorbed the cuts.  Common strategies include finding operating efficiencies, working to reduce the rate at which offenders return to prison, and accelerating the release of lower-risk inmates.

NCSL’s report, Cutting Corrections Costs: Earned Time Policies for State Prisoners, explores cost-cutting policies that speed release of inmates who complete programs and activities designed to increase their chances of success once they return to the community. NCSL’s statutory review describes the eligibility criteria and incentive structure for earned time policies in 31 states.  It summarizes several research studies that find earned time policies can save substantial funds while maintaining or reducing recidivism rates. It also includes three brief Q&As with a leading policy analyst from Washington State, a Kansas legislator and Pennsylvania’s corrections director.

Together, the reports provide timely and detailed information on sentencing and corrections policies that can help states navigate the budget crunch.

August 4, 2009 at 09:13 AM | Permalink


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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB