State Spending on Corrections

"State spending on corrections reflects the costs to build and operate prison systems and may include spending on juvenile justice programs and alternatives to incarceration such as probation and parole. State spending for corrections totaled $53.2 billion in fiscal 2012, compared to $51.5 billion in fiscal 2011. In fiscal 2012, corrections spending represented 3.2 percent of total state spending and 6.9 percent of general fund spending. General fund dollars are the primary source for state corrections and account for $46.0 billion, or 86.3 percent, of all fiscal 2012 state corrections spending. State funds (general funds and other state funds combined, but excluding bonds) accounted for 96.6 percent of total state corrections spending in fiscal 2012. Federal funds accounted for 1.9 percent and bonds accounted for 1.5 percent. Federal funds for corrections declined by 34.5 percent in fiscal 2012, as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds began to expire. However, even with the sharp decline in federal funds, total state spending for corrections still grew by 3.3 percent, illustrating the fact that state correctional services are almost entirely financed by state funds.
"State spending on corrections in fiscal 2013 is estimated to total $53.1 billion, a 0.3 percent decline from fiscal 2012. State funds are estimated to increase by 0.3 percent, while federal funds are estimated to decline by 11.7 percent. The slight decline in the overall growth rate is partly due to recent efforts states have taken to control corrections spending. From fiscal 1987 to fiscal 2012, nominal spending from state funds for corrections increased from $11.4 billion to $51.4 billion. Over the past several years, states have begun targeting criminal justice reforms to address the cost drivers of corrections expenditures. For example, according to a September 2013 NASBO issue brief, states have begun controlling costs through reducing recidivism rates, implementing changes to parole and probation systems, enhancing community supervision and drug treatment programs, and enacting sentencing reforms."


National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "State Expenditure Report 2012: Examining Fiscal 2011-2013 State Spending," (Washington, DC: NASBO, 2013), p. 52.