Study Finds Disparities in Corrections Spending

Study Finds Disparities in Corrections Spending

States spend seven times more money on prisons than on probation and parole, even though the vast majority of the 7.3 million adults now under correctional supervision are not behind bars, according to the first detailed survey of state corrections spending since 2002.

Counting offenders on probation and parole, one in 31 U.S. adults is under some form of correctional supervision, including incarceration, according to the study, released Monday, March 2, by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Center on the States.

In 1982, 1 in 77 adults was under correctional supervision, the study said. It attributed the dramatic growth over the past three decades in large part to an expansion in the number of offenders granted probation or parole.

States and localities, not the federal government, supervise most of the nation's criminals, including those on probation and parole.

The nonpartisan Pew Center on the States—funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the parent organization of—last year issued a report finding that, for the first time, one in 100 adults nationwide, or 2.3 million people, were behind bars.

The new report focuses on the more than 5 million adults under probation or parole supervision, either because their crimes did not warrant incarceration or because they have been released after serving time. States, the Pew study contends, devote a disproportionately small amount of funding to the management of these offenders, when compared with what they spend on criminals currently behind bars — even taking into consideration the far greater costs of operating prisons.

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