With state budgets in dire straits and corrections expenditures consuming 1 in 15 state general fund dollars, sentencing and prison policies are receiving special scrutiny. A new publication from the Vera Institute of Justice, partner of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, describes 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 26 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.
The report provides timely and detailed information on sentencing and corrections policies that can help states navigate the budget crunch.