Cutting Corrections Costs

Jul 31, 2009

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 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 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. 

NCSL’s report, Cutting Corrections Costs: Earned Time Policies for State Prisoners, explores cost-cutting policies that speed release of inmates who complete programs and activities designed to increase their chances of success once they return to the community. NCSL’s statutory review describes the eligibility criteria and incentive structure for earned time policies in 31 states.  It summarizes several research studies that find earned time policies can save substantial funds while maintaining or reducing recidivism rates. It also includes three brief Q&As with a leading policy analyst from Washington state, a Kansas legislator and Pennsylvania’s corrections director.

The report provides timely and detailed information on sentencing and corrections policies that can help states navigate the budget crunch.

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