May 17, 2017

State corrections spending spikes, inmate population wanes — report warns of schism

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Mass. Department of Correction / State House News Service

A cell at Souza-Baranowski maximum security prison in Shirley.

BOSTON — As the number of people incarcerated in Massachusetts state or county facilities declined since fiscal year 2011, state spending on correctional facilities climbed by about 18 percent, according to a report released earlier this week.

Since fiscal 2011 — the highwater mark for the state’s incarcerated population — the average daily number of people incarcerated in state prisons and jails has declined by about 12 percent from 23,850 to 20,961. However, state spending for the Department of Correction and the 14 county sheriffs’ offices increased by $181 million to $1.2 billion.

The report’s findings were the focus of a summit hosted Monday by MassINC and the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition to examine how the state could spend savings associated with a declining inmate population on ancillary programs like drug rehabilitation and mental health counseling to improve the broader criminal justice system.

“As we have a reducing population, we still have increasing costs of incarceration,” U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark said. “And we need those resources for so many other things.”


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