Trends in State Spending on Corrections in the US

"State spending on corrections reflects the costs to build and operate prison systems and may include spending on juvenile justice systems and my include spending on juvenile justice programs and alternatives to incarceration such as probation and parole. State spending for corrections totaled $56.9 billion in fiscal 2015, compared to $55.3 billion in fiscal 2014, a 3.0 percent increase in total spending with state funds increasing 3.1 percent and federal funds declining 1.4 percent. State spending on corrections in fiscal 2016 is estimated to total $58.0 billion, a 2.0 percent increase from fiscal 2015. State funds are estimated to increase by 2.1 percent, while federal funds are estimated to increase by 3.6 percent.
"Although state spending on corrections is estimated to increase for fiscal 2016, the growth rate has slowed. For several years states have been making criminal justice reforms to address the cost drivers of corrections expenditures, including limiting growth in inmate populations. Many states are examining their criminal justice systems and implementing reforms to concentrate resources on the most violent offenders while ensuring other offenders are equipped with the tools and supports needed to successfully transition back to the community. These reforms include alternatives to incarceration, earning sentence credits for good behavior, other sentencing changes, parole reforms, and increased treatment to address mental health and substance abuse disorders. And while several states have been successful in reducing the growth of their inmate population, costs continue to increase due to programming investments, increasing inmate health care expenditures, costly maintenance of aging facilities, and the personnel costs associated with running institutions."


National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "State Expenditure Report: Examining Fiscal 2014-2016 State Spending," (Washington, DC: NASBO, 2016), p. 54.