In the final stretch of approving budgets for the next fiscal year, many statehouses want to save money by changing incarceration policies and closing prisons. Florida is set to bring in more private contractors to run its prisons while Ohio and Louisiana consider selling theirs.
More than 2 million people are in state and federal prisons and local jails, many in facilities funded by states. For almost all states, corrections is a rapidly growing expense.
State spending on prisons shot up to $74 billion in 2007 from $63 billion in 1997, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Local government spending on jails rose to $116 billion from $99 billion during that same time.
One of the main reasons for the high cost is that the United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, according to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.
Source: Lisa Lambert for Reuters.