Despite Justice Improvements, State Spending on Incarceration Still Rises


Despite an improvement in some criminal-justice policies, state spending for corrections “has yet to exhibit any meaningful slowdown and incarceration
costs continue to rise,” says the National Association of State Budget Officers. In a new report, the group says that state spending for corrections reached $52.4 billion in fiscal 2012 and has exceeded 7.0 percent of overall general fund expenditures every year since fiscal 2008.

The association says the trend “suggests that criminal justice reforms have yet to reverse the persistent growth in public safety spending, and that many states still have a potential for greater savings from policy reforms.” The association reviews many advances in corrections instituted across the U.S. in recent years and says that elments of incarceration that are most related to inflationary pressures, like inmate health care and employee wages and benefits, are likely to produce the greatest savings from a smaller inmate population. Whether the savings from justice policy reforms will free up state revenue for other areas of the budget is yet to be determined, the group says.

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