The Rising Costs of Prison Health Care


The cost of correctional health care spending in most states has grown rapidly during the 21st century, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

This report examines state spending on inmate health care, based on information from 44 states that were examined in a study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Between 2001 and 2008, prison health care spending increased in 42 states, with median growth of 52 percent. The states examined totaled $6.5 billion in prison health care spending 2008, out of $36.8 billion in overall correctional spending.

“In a dozen states, prison health expenditures grew 90 percent or more,” according to the report.

Health care spending per-inmate increased in 35 of the states covered in the report, which researchers attribute to aging inmate populations, prevalence of diseases, mental illness and substance addiction, as well as other factors.

Researchers recommend a series of strategies to address correctional health costs, including using video conferencing and digitally transmitted diagnostic data, implementing outsourcing agreements that ensure quality of care and control costs, enrolling eligible prisoners in Medicaid, and releasing offenders who are deemed too sick or frail to pose a public safety risk.

Read the full report HERE.

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