Magazine article Government Finance Review

States' Incarceration Costs Skyrocket

Magazine article Government Finance Review

States' Incarceration Costs Skyrocket

Article excerpt

For the first time, more than one in every 100 adults in the United States is confined in a jail or prison, according to a recent report from the Pew Center for the States, One in 100: Behind Bors in America 2008. The number has grown steadily for thirty years, costing states a combined $49 billion last year, up from $12 billion in 1987. And that cost is expected to grow to $74 billion by 2011.

The costs vary widely by state, but the average operating cost per prisoner was $23,876 hr 2005, according to the study, with Rhode Island spending the most per inmate--$44,860--and Louisiana spending the least--$13,009.

Incarceration rates continue to increase, although some states--Texas, California, New York, and Michigan--have seen a slight decline. Other states [nay be seeing reductions soon, according to the report, which cites stretched budgets and increased awareness of research-backed strategies for community corrections. States "are encouraging policy makers to diversify their states' array of criminal sanctions with options for low-risk offenders that save tax dollars but still hold offenders accountable for their actions," the report says. …

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