Spending on Massachusetts correction agencies has exploded in the past decade despite only a modest increase in the number of people incarcerated and now accounts for a bigger chunk of the state budget than each of the departments that oversee higher education, social services, and public health, says a new study reported by the Boston Globe.
The study by the Boston Foundation says the more than $1.2 billion spent this year on correction stems largely from a decades-old, lock-'em-up approach that has put about 11,000 people in state prisons and about 14,000 people in county jails, resulting in mammoth labor and facility costs. Spending on probation alone has soared 163 percent in the past 10 years. Massachusetts, the study says, has hewed to a philosophy of “safety at any price,'' even though the financially strapped state can no longer afford it and the spending has made little difference. The study could be influential in shaping next year's budget debate.