As many folks may know, the AZ DOC recently sought an increase in their funding (apparently a Billion dollars isn't enough to feed that beast), partly to assure they have the necessary resources allocated to comply with the Parsons v Ryan settlement agreement, which compels the health care provider to hire more staff (people just aren't lining up for the jobs...). But the DOC also reports a rising prison population last year, for the first year in several. And they're opening that new 500-man Supermax unit at Lewis early next year - they can't get the staff they need at Lewis as it is, though, so I don't know how they plan to staff it even if they have the money to.
Chuck Ryan is nearing retirement, I hope, as Jan Brewer bows out of office in January - there's another Republican coming in, but I'd think that guy would really want to start off clean at the AZ DOC and not keep putting more of the Good Old Boys in power there - they've done enough damage as it is. Maybe we should consider evidence-based, effective alternatives to throwing more money at the DOC to solve our growing prison population problem - especially to reduce recidivism.
That's not to say that I think the public education system is any less coercive and hostile to already-oppressed communities, though, than the prison system is - it seeks to cultivate good citizens and workers to serve the state and corporate elite, basically. Simply throwing more money there isn't going to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline so many kids are quickly tracked into.
There are some great programs though, and schools can be a good site of intervention to reduce incarceration rates for communities. Likewise, if you think some portion of your public is getting too upwardly-mobile, school systems are sites for undermining progressive programs, an example being when the dolt Tom Horne was state superintendent. Unfortunately, I don't see Arizona restoring the Tucson Ethnic Studies program anytime soon, despite the success it had with improving graduation and resiliency rates for students of color. Honestly, the election results this week were pretty grim. I guess people are going to have to hurt even more before they become ready to cast off their chains.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
is an excellent resource for folks researching poverty, income
inequality, funding criminal justice initiatives, and legislative reforms - arm yourselves with the facts here, at least. It's
considered a liberal think tank - keep that in mind when you look at
their policy recommendations, and know that I'm even left of that - but
their sources and stats are pretty solid, and we've got to start somewhere. I'd say investing in our communities
instead of the prisons is the place to begin to build anew.
There are some great links at the end of this report, as well.
Most states’ prison populations are at historic highs after decades
of extraordinary growth; in 36 states, the prison population has more
than tripled as a share of the state population since 1978. This rapid
growth, which continued even after crime rates fell substantially in
the 1990s, has been costly. Corrections spending is now the
third-largest category of spending in most states, behind education and
health care. If states were still spending on corrections what they
spent in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation, they would have about
$28 billion more each year that they could choose to spend on more
productive investments or a mix of investments and tax reductions.
as states spend more on corrections, they are underinvesting in
educating children and young adults, especially those in high-poverty
neighborhoods. At least 30 states are providing less general funding
per student this year for K-12 schools than before the recession, after
adjusting for inflation; in 14 states the reduction exceeds 10
percent. Higher education cuts have been even deeper: the average
state has cut higher education funding per student by 23 percent since
the recession hit, after adjusting for inflation. Eleven states spent
more of their general funds on corrections than on higher education in
2013. And some of the states with the biggest education cuts in recent
years also have among the nation’s highest incarceration rates.
is not sound policy. State economies would be much stronger over
time if states invested more in education and other areas that can
boost long-term economic growth and less in maintaining extremely high
prison populations. The economic health of many low-income
neighborhoods, which face disproportionately high incarceration rates,
could particularly improve if states reordered their spending in such a
way. States could use the freed-up funds in a number of ways, such as
expanding access to high-quality preschool, reducing class sizes in
high-poverty schools, and revising state funding formulas to invest
more in high-poverty neighborhoods.
State incarceration rates
have risen primarily because states are sending a much larger share of
offenders to prison and keeping them there longer. States can reduce
their incarceration rates – without harming public safety – by
reclassifying low-level felonies to misdemeanors where appropriate,
expanding the use of alternatives to prison (such as fines and victim
restitution), shortening jail and prison terms, and eliminating prison
sentences for technical violations of parole/probation where no new
crime has been committed.
A number of states have enacted
criminal justice reforms in recent years. Some have reduced prison
populations sharply; reforms in New Jersey, New York, and California
for example, helped drive down prison populations in each of those
states by roughly 25 percent – while crime rates have continued to
In most states, though, reforms have not had a large impact on the
size of prison populations, which remain extremely high nationally.
Moreover, states rarely have directed the savings from reform
explicitly to human capital investments (such as education) or
States wishing to use the savings from
criminal justice reforms for productive purposes would do well to
adopt planning and budgeting mechanisms that can help them shift
priorities. These include:
- A high-quality, long-term
forecast of the savings from specific reforms, made available to
lawmakers when they are considering reform bills;
- An accepted process to estimate the annual savings from the reforms once enacted;
- An established mechanism to shift those savings to productive uses, especially human capital investments; and
- An independent commission to monitor implementation and enforce compliance with the reforms.
is not to say that states can use criminal justice reforms to fully
finance the increased education investments they need. First, there
is a timing issue; major savings from reducing incarceration likely
will accrue over a number of years, as reforms lead to prison closures
and a reduction in the prison population, but states need to invest
more in education more rapidly than that. In addition, states will
likely spend much of the savings from criminal justice reforms
elsewhere, in investments such as effective rehabilitative programs
that allow formerly incarcerated people to address mental illness and
addiction and lead productive lives, or in a mix of investments and tax
State Prison Populations Have Grown Rapidly in Past 35 Years
corrections systems incarcerate the vast majority of prisoners in the
United States. State prisons account for 87 percent of the total
prisoner population, with the remaining 13 percent under federal
When one considers the broader population of incarcerated people —
that is, including inmates in local jails either awaiting sentence or
serving a term of less than one year — state prisons account for just
under 60 percent of all people behind bars at any given point in time.
overall state prison population has grown sizably since the late
1970s, from roughly 270,000 inmates in 1978 to more than 1.3 million in
That growth far outpaced U.S. population growth. In the late
seventies, states imprisoned around 120 individuals for every 100,000
U.S. residents; in 2007 the state incarceration rate peaked at 450
individuals per 100,000 residents and has fallen only slightly since.
rates have more than tripled in 36 states since 1978 and have
increased six-fold in four states (Mississippi, New Hampshire, North
Dakota, and Pennsylvania). Rates remain at near-peak levels:
State Policies, Not Crime Levels, Are Biggest Drivers of Rising Incarceration Rates
states had incarceration rates above 500 prisoners per 100,000
residents in 2013: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.
of those states — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas
— had incarceration rates above 600 prisoners per 100,000 residents.
- In one of those states, Louisiana, the incarceration rate stood at nearly 850 prisoners per 100,000 residents.
rates are a function of four variables: the crime rate, the ratio of
arrests to crimes, the share of offenders sent to prison, and the
length of prison sentences. Research shows that the last two of these
are the biggest drivers of the increase in state incarceration rates
over the past several decades. Both the share of people sent to prison
and the length of their prison stays are under policymakers’ direct
control. Reforms aimed at reducing prison populations will need to
target these two areas.
More specifically, research on the causes of rising incarceration rates has found:
- Crime rates have risen and fallen independently of incarceration rates. Crime
rates began rising in the early 1960s, roughly a decade before state
incarceration rates began rising. In the 1980s, violent and property
crime rates fluctuated (falling in the first half of the decade, then
rising in the second), while incarceration rates continued rising,
undergoing their greatest decade of growth. By the end of the 1990s,
crime rates had fallen to levels not seen since the 1970s, and they have
continued to fall throughout the 2000s; yet incarceration rates
continued to grow well into the 2000s, peaking in 2007.
- Arrests per crime have been relatively stable. Incarceration
rates may rise even when crime rates remain stable if police become
more effective at apprehending offenders (in other words, if the arrest
rate per crime increases). However, the likelihood of arresting
someone who has committed a crime remained relatively stable between
1980 and 2010. “[B]y the measure of the ratio of arrests to crimes, no
increase in policing effectiveness occurred from 1980 to 2010 that
might explain higher rates of incarceration,” a recent National
Research Council report concluded.
- The share of offenders sent to prison has climbed dramatically. For
all major crime types, the likelihood that an offender will go to
prison has risen sharply over the past 30 years. This is especially
true for drug offenses; the likelihood of being sent to prison for a
drug-related crime rose by 350 percent between 1980 and
2010. The National Research Council study estimated that the increase
in the share of offenders sent to prison accounts for 44 to 49 percent
of the long-term growth in state incarceration rates.
- Length of stay in prison has grown for all types of crimes. Between
1990 and 2009, the average time served rose by nearly 25 percent for
property crimes and by roughly 37 percent for violent and drug crimes,
the Pew Center on the States estimates. Overall, Pew estimated that
individuals released from prison in 2009 spent nine months longer
behind bars than offenders released 20 years ago.
The increase in average sentences has contributed as much to the
growth in incarceration rates as the rise in the share of offenders
sent to prison, and possibly slightly more.
High Incarceration Rates Impose Significant Human Costs, Especially in Certain Neighborhoods
incarceration rates have risen in every state in recent decades, the
impacts have been most acute for a small but geographically
concentrated number of neighborhoods. A 2010 paper by two Harvard
criminologists found that incarceration rates in the early and
mid-2000s were below 500 per 100,000 adult residents for the majority of
Chicago neighborhoods but were more than eight times
greater— over 4,000 per 100,000 adult residents — for a small subset of clustered Chicago neighborhoods.
Another study found that North Carolina’s incarceration rate in 2000
was 335 per 100,000 residents statewide, well below the national
average at the time, but was 8,000 per 100,000 adult residents in one
most afflicted by high incarceration rates have high levels of
poverty, unemployment, and racial segregation. “To state the claim
bluntly, imprisonment and its effects are concentrated in neighborhoods
where black people and poor people live,” political scientist Traci
Burch has written.
levels of incarceration impose significant human and economic costs.
People with criminal convictions face serious challenges in finding
stable and adequate employment.
Time behind bars is generally time lost developing the skills and
education increasingly necessary in today’s labor market, a particular
problem given that formerly incarcerated people typically have lower
levels of education.
(Nearly 40 percent of state prisoners had not finished high school
and only 11 percent had attended college, a Justice Department study
conducted in 2003 found.)
For many, incarceration also carries a strong stigma, which can
discourage potential employers from hiring. In addition, in some
states, legal barriers prevent people with criminal convictions from
holding certain jobs.
Even those who do find employment typically earn less than otherwise-similar people who have not been incarcerated.
A Pew study
that men with a previous criminal conviction worked roughly nine fewer
weeks, and earned 40 percent less, each year than otherwise similar
These effects accumulate over time. The study also found that men’s
total earnings by age 48 are less than half among men who have been
incarcerated than among comparable men who have not been incarcerated.
In addition, the study found that overall, incarceration reduces the
total earnings of all
black men — not just ex-offenders — by 9 percent.
Incarceration also increases poverty, for those who have been to prison as well as other household members, including children.
inmates are also parents and/or partners, and their incarceration
leaves households with one less potential wage earner. One study
examining poverty and state-level incarceration rates between 1980 and
2004 determined that if incarceration rates had not increased, the
official poverty rate would have fallen by roughly 20 percent over that
period instead of remaining relatively stable.
A 2008 study estimated that more than 2.7 million children had a
parent behind bars, and that this significantly increased the
children’s likelihood of being poor.
high levels of incarceration are heavily localized, the individual and
family effects of imprisonment accumulate to limit entire communities’
economic and social opportunities. Removing large numbers of
working-age men and women from the community depletes the human capital
needed to build stable neighborhoods.
That depletion, in turn, tends to reduce economic and social opportunities even for community members with no
with the criminal justice system. A 2003 study found that as
incarceration rates rise in a given county, unemployment rates
subsequently rise for the county’s non-incarcerated African Americans.
High Incarceration Rates Present Mounting Fiscal Challenge
the number of individuals connected to the criminal justice system has
ballooned, so has state corrections spending, which more than doubled
between 1986 and 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), from $20 billion
to over $47 billion.
Spending rose in every state except Virginia, by more than four times
in nine states (Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) and by five times
in three of those states (Colorado, Idaho, and Pennsylvania).
of state general-fund dollars going to corrections rose as well
between 1986 and 2013, from 4.7 percent to nearly 7 percent nationally.
For most states, corrections spending is now the third-largest category of spending, behind only education and health care.
In four states (Arizona, Michigan, Oregon, and Vermont), corrections
accounts for more than 11 percent of state general fund spending.
in corrections spending has outpaced growth in expenditures in other
critical areas of state budgets, such as K-12 and higher education.
State spending on higher education — that is, money spent through the
state budget, not by students and families through tuition — rose by
less than 6 percent between 1986 and 2013, after adjusting for
inflation. State support for K-12 education grew by 69 percent over
But corrections spending jumped by 141 percent.
Eleven states spent more general funds on corrections than on higher
education in 2013; Oregon spent more than twice as much. In 12 other
states, corrections spending was at least 70 percent of state support
for higher education.
states were still spending the same amount on corrections as they did
in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation, they would have about $28
billion more available each year for education and other productive
|Alabama ||$270 ||$460 ||$190 |
|Alaska ||$166 ||$349 ||$183 |
|Arizona ||$347 ||$965 ||$618 |
|Arkansas ||$81 ||$385 ||$304 |
|California ||$3,329 ||$8,618 ||$5,289 |
|Colorado ||$130 ||$670 ||$540 |
|Connecticut ||$225 ||$642 ||$417 |
|Delaware ||$100 ||$265 ||$165 |
|Florida ||$772 ||$2,316 ||$1,544 |
|Georgia ||$449 ||$1,467 ||$1,018 |
|Hawaii ||$79 ||$218 ||$139 |
|Idaho ||$32 ||$213 ||$181 |
|Illinois ||$782 ||$1,295 ||$513 |
|Indiana ||$296 ||$687 ||$391 |
|Iowa ||$155 ||$362 ||$207 |
|Kansas ||$151 ||$354 ||$203 |
|Kentucky ||$196 ||$558 ||$362 |
|Louisiana ||$389 ||$713 ||$324 |
|Maine ||$74 ||$133 ||$59 |
|Maryland ||$780 ||$1,313 ||$533 |
|Massachusetts ||$353 ||$1,261 ||$908 |
|Michigan ||$836 ||$2,064 ||$1,228 |
|Minnesota ||$185 ||$469 ||$284 |
|Mississippi ||$117 ||$312 ||$195 |
|Missouri ||$204 ||$589 ||$385 |
|Montana ||$45 ||$178 ||$133 |
|Nebraska ||$74 ||$198 ||$124 |
|Nevada ||$96 ||$247 ||$151 |
|New Hampshire ||$32 ||$95 ||$63 |
|New Jersey ||$670 ||$1,511 ||$841 |
|New Mexico ||$140 ||$266 ||$126 |
|New York ||$2,762 ||$2,918 ||$156 |
|North Carolina ||$538 ||$1,717 ||$1,179 |
|North Dakota ||$17 ||$81 ||$64 |
|Ohio ||$668 ||$1,798 ||$1,130 |
|Oklahoma ||$208** ||$459 ||$251 |
|Oregon ||$196 ||$802 ||$606 |
|Pennsylvania ||$393 ||$2,111 ||$1,718 |
|Rhode Island ||$74 ||$185 ||$111 |
|South Carolina ||$257 ||$492 ||$235 |
|South Dakota ||$28 ||$85 ||$57 |
|Tennessee ||$472 ||$880 ||$408 |
|Texas ||$872 ||$3,191 ||$2,319 |
|Utah ||$115 ||$239 ||$124 |
|Vermont ||$34 ||$131 ||$97 |
|Virginia ||$940** ||$1,174 ||$234 |
|Washington ||$344 ||$913** ||$569 |
|West Virginia ||$45 ||$219 ||$174 |
|Wisconsin ||$279 ||$1,138 ||$859 |
|Wyoming ||$30 ||$123 ||$93 |
| || ||Total Spending Increase: ||$28,006 || |
2013 spending levels are estimates collected by the National
Association of State Budget Officers. Actual state spending levels may
**Oklahoma data reflect corrections spending
in FY 1987; Virginia data reflect FY 1990; Washington State data
reflect FY 2012.
Source: CBPP analysis Data from National Association of State Budget Officers.
States Are Underinvesting in Educating Children in Low-Income Neighborhoods
economies — and, in particular, the economies of many low-income
neighborhoods — would be stronger over time if states spent less in
maintaining extremely high prison populations and more to educate
children and young adults.
In recent years, though, states
have cut education funding, in some cases by large amounts. At least
30 states are providing less general funding per student this year for
K-12 schools than in state fiscal year 2008, before the Great Recession
hit, after adjusting for inflation.
In 14 states, the reduction exceeds 10 percent. The three states with
the deepest funding cuts since the recession hit - Alabama, Arizona,
and Oklahoma - are among the ten states with the highest incarceration
Cuts in state funding for colleges and universities have
been even deeper. The average state has cut higher education funding
per student by 23 percent since the recession hit, after adjusting for
inflation. The two states with the deepest cuts - ver 40 percent - are
Arizona and Louisiana, both in the top ten for incarceration rates.
states have also cut funding substantially for preschool programs. Of
the 40 states that help fund preschools, 28 now have lower per-child
funding than before the recession hit.
Many of the deepest cuts occurred in the highest-incarcerating states.
Six of the ten states with the highest incarceration rates - Arizona,
Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas - cut preschool
funding per child by more than 15 percent between 2008 and 2013.
reordering their priorities to invest more in education, states could
start repairing the damage done by these recession-era cuts and
otherwise improve their education systems, especially in high-poverty
neighborhoods most directly affected by high incarceration rates. They
could, for example:
- Expand access to high-quality preschool.
A substantial body of research indicates that children from
low-income families who attend a high-quality preschool program improve
their cognitive skills and tend to earn more as adults. Yet only a little over one-third
of 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families nationally are enrolled
in preschool, including both public and private programs. Only New Jersey and the District of Columbia have enrollment rates exceeding 50 percent.
some high-incarcerating states perform comparatively well on this
measure, others do not. Mississippi enrolls nearly half of its
low-income 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool, for example, but Arizona
enrolls only about 27 percent.
- Reduce class sizes in high-poverty schools. Evidence suggests that reducing class sizes can boost achievement, especially in the early grades and for low-income students. After the recession hit, though, class sizes rose nationally and in a number of states. Kansas schools, for example, had 19,000 more students last school year than they did in 2009, but 665 fewer teachers. Further, in a handful of states, teachers in high-poverty schools
have more students, on average, than teachers in low-poverty schools -
the opposite of what is generally required to produce an equitable
In Alabama, for example, the average teacher in a high-poverty school
district had 19 students in 2011, while the average teacher in a
low-poverty district had 13. Four of the states with this backward
arrangement - Alabama, Arizona, Florida, and Texas - are among the ten
- Revise state funding formulas to invest more in high-poverty neighborhoods.
Schools receive most of their funding from a combination of state and
local sources. The primary local source is the property tax, which
tends to generate more revenue for schools in wealthier areas than in
poorer ones because it is based on property values. State funding can
help counteract that inequity. Unfortunately, a number of states provide less funding
for high-poverty schools than for low-poverty schools, while some
others provide about the same funding to high- and low-poverty
districts. As of 2011, only 14 states provided at least 5 percent more
funding per student for high-poverty districts than low-poverty
many states provide inadequate funding for schools overall. While some
interstate differences in funding levels are to be expected, given
variations in wage rates, poverty levels, population density, and other
factors, a number of states have low per-student funding levels even
after controlling for these factors. Based on one study that accounted
for these factors, none of the states with the ten highest incarceration rates ranked in the top half of states for school funding per student in 2011.
- Increase college enrollment and graduation rates for students from low-income families. Students
from low-income families are much less likely to enroll in college
than students from wealthier households. Only about half of recent high
school graduates from households in the lowest income quintile
(earning less than $18,300) enrolled in postsecondary education in
2012, compared to more than 80 percent of students from households in
the top quintile (earning over $90,500 a year).
addition, low-income students who enroll in college are much less
likely to graduate than their higher-income counterparts. One study
found that only a quarter of low-income students who began college in
the 2003-04 school year had attained a bachelor’s degree six years
later, compared to nearly 60 percent of high-income students.
Adding to the difficulties facing low-income students, sharp
reductions in state funding for higher education have led to
significant tuition increases. Tuition at the average public college
or university nationally is up $1,936 (28 percent) since the 2007-08
school year, after adjusting for inflation.
While more federal financial aid is now available to offset rising
tuition for low-income students, increases in costs of room and board
along with a higher “sticker price” at many colleges and universities
likely cause some students to choose not to enroll.
Reforms Can Reduce Incarceration Rates and Produce Savings
States can reduce their incarceration rates and realize significant long-term budget savings without harming public safety.
To do this, state policymakers need to enact reforms that target the
main drivers of high incarceration rates: the number of people admitted
(or re-admitted) into correctional facilities and the length of their
prison stays. States should consider four basic kinds of reforms:
- Decriminalize certain activities and reclassify certain low-level felonies.
The increased use of prison — and longer prison sentences — to punish
crimes such as the possession of certain drugs, like marijuana, has
contributed heavily to the growth in mass incarceration. Lawmakers
should look to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for such crimes
when doing so would not affect public safety.
the use of alternatives to prison for non-violent crimes and divert
people with mental health or substance abuse issues away from the
criminal justice system altogether. Policymakers should
assess the range of sentencing alternatives available in their state,
such as drug and mental health courts and related treatment, community
correction centers, community service, sex offender treatment, and
fines and victim restitution. Whenever possible, people whose crimes
stem from addiction or mental illness should be diverted into treatment
programs rather than sent to prison. These treatment programs should
be high-quality and adequately funded.
- Reduce the length of prison terms and parole/probation periods.
Policymakers should reform unnecessarily harsh sentencing policies,
including “truth-in-sentencing” requirements and mandatory minimum
sentences, and allow inmates to reduce their sentences through good
time or earned time policies. States also should expand programs that
enable inmates meeting certain requirements to receive favorable
decisions in parole hearings, especially in states where parole grant
rates remain low. Funding for programs to help inmates meet these
requirements, in areas such as substance abuse, anger management,
literacy, or higher education, has not kept pace with the growth in
state prison populations.
- Restrict the use of prison for technical violations of parole/probation. The
share of individuals entering prison due to a parole violation grew
rapidly between the late 1970s and the late 2000s. While it has fallen
more recently, parole revocations accounted for more than a quarter of
admissions to state prisons in 2013.
Some of these violations are technical, such as missing a meeting
with a probation officer or failing a drug test. States should heavily
restrict the use of prison for technical parole violators and implement
graduated sanctions for more serious parole violations.
States can also adopt more effective probation policies. For
example, Hawaii has sharply reduced probation revocations with a
program that punishes infractions more quickly and with more certainty,
but with much shorter periods of incarceration.
reforms are complementary; adopting just one or two won’t shrink a
state’s prison population as much as a more comprehensive set of
reforms that improves “front-end” sentencing and admission policies as
well as “back-end” release and re-entry policies.
What Policy Mechanisms Do States Need to Support Those Reforms?
wishing to use savings from criminal justice reforms for more
productive purposes would do well to adopt planning and budgeting
mechanisms that can help them shift priorities, including the following.
High-Quality, Long-Term Forecast of Potential Savings
often don’t have the information needed to make educated decisions on
proposed criminal justice reform legislation because they lack an
official estimate of the fiscal impact of the reforms, also known as a
“fiscal note.” Roughly 40 percent of the major criminal justice bills
enacted in states in 2009-2011 had no fiscal note. In about half of the
states where a fiscal note was
produced, the notes projected
fiscal impacts no more than two years into the future. Moreover, some
states had little or no process to ensure that the fiscal notes were
credible, such as a review by independent analysts. (See Box 1.)
Box 1: Fiscal Note Best Practices
When drafting fiscal notes, states should strive to make them:a
Fiscal notes should be produced in a consistent format by trusted,
non-partisan staff. All major bills that have reached a certain stage
in the legislative process should be analyzed for their fiscal impact.
Fiscal notes should estimate savings and potential costs and include a
detailed explanation in instances where an estimate cannot be
calculated. At a minimum, they should seek to forecast five years into
. In complex reform
bills, the analysis should extend to the bills’ individual major
provisions. Fiscal notes should also attempt to estimate impacts on
local as well as state finances and on the size of prison and jail
. Fiscal notes should
be clearly written and available online and should include contact
information for the analyst or staff responsible.
a See Michael Leachman et al.,
“Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms: A
Strategy for Better Outcomes and Saving Money,” Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities and American Civil Liberties Union, January 11, 2012,
Accepted Process to Estimate Annual Savings Once Reforms Are Enacted
capture the savings from criminal justice reforms for more productive
human capital investments (including education), states need to
estimate how much specific reforms save following enactment. These
estimates need to be produced each time a state writes its budget -
annually in most states - so that lawmakers can incorporate the savings
into the budget. Estimates need to be produced in a manner that is
accepted as credible by legislators, other policymakers, and the
public, so that the process does not bog down in arguments over the
A California ballot initiative (Proposition 47) could
serve as a model. It would reform sentencing policies and
place all resulting savings in a special fund to be used for certain
specified purposes, primarily addiction and mental health treatment and
school programs for high-risk youth. (See Box 2.) To determine how
much to deposit into the fund, Proposition 47 would require the state
finance department to estimate the savings attributable to the measure
Alternatively, states can choose to allocate savings
based on estimates produced during the initial fiscal note process.
For this to occur, it is important that fiscal notes be properly
researched, consistent, and provide detailed estimates of savings far
enough into the future. Such a process would be similar to what occurs
at the federal level when the Congressional Budget Office estimates
the potential costs or savings of proposed legislation and these
estimates are then used to determine the savings that can be spent in
Established Mechanism to Shift Savings to Investments in Human Capital
typically have three alternative ways to shift savings from criminal
justice reforms into human capital investments. They can:
- Establish a mechanism to automatically estimate the savings and divert them into a special fund.
One approach is for policymakers enacting criminal justice reforms to
simultaneously create a “reinvestment fund” that captures savings from
the reforms and allocates those savings largely to human capital
investments, including educational programming targeted to high-poverty
communities and improved mental health and substance abuse treatment
programs. As the state reports each year the estimated savings from
the reforms, an equal amount is automatically deposited into the fund.
The legislation establishing the fund would specify how the money is
to be spent. California’s Proposition 47 follows this approach.
- Appropriate savings through state budget processes.
Through the annual budget process, policymakers can estimate the
savings from criminal justice reforms and determine how much of those
savings to reinvest and in what programs. This option gives
policymakers greater flexibility and control. On the other hand, it
can place reinvestments in future years in jeopardy as political
priorities change or fiscal and economic conditions shift.
- Reallocate spending at the department or agency level.
Within departments or agencies, states can shift dollars away from
incarceration and into human capital investments. For instance, after
North Carolina enacted criminal justice reforms in 2011, policymakers
shifted $16 million into community-based treatments by drawing on
resources that were already in the Department of Public Safety’s budget
but would no longer be needed for corrections costs.
Box 2: California Ballot Proposal Offers Model
47 (“The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”), which will appear on
California’s statewide ballot on November 4, contains criminal justice
reforms designed to reduce the state prison population, coupled with
measures to reinvest the savings.
California has the nation’s second-largest prison system, with over 130,000 individuals under state jurisdiction.a
With the system operating at roughly 140 percent of capacity,
California has located more than 15,000 prisoners in private prison
facilities and out-of-state prisons.b
In addition, a federal
court ruling that prison overcrowding is preventing the state from
giving prisoners adequate medical and mental health care means that
California must reduce its prison population.
To accomplish this, Proposition 47 would:
targeted sentencing reductions by reclassifying certain offenses from
felonies to misdemeanors, for both current and future offenders.
Proposition 47 would reclassify seven types of non-violent drug and
property crimes (such as shoplifting, drug possession, and petty theft)
from felonies to misdemeanors,c thereby shortening the
maximum penalty from a multi-year prison sentence to one year in jail.
Since the change would be retroactive, qualifying prisoners could apply
for resentencing and see their sentences reduced.
- Require the state to calculate the savings from the reforms each year and deposit them in a dedicated fund.
The initiative would require California’s Department of Finance to
estimate the state savings attributable to the measure each year and
deposit them in a special fund.
- Earmark the savings for specific investments.
Savings deposited in the fund could only be used for three explicit
purposes and in specified proportions: 65 percent would go to mental
health services, drug treatment, and “diversion programs” designed to
enable offenders to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record; 25
percent would go to supporting at-risk youth in schools; and 10 percent
would go to victim services.
Analyst’s Office has estimated that Proposition 47 would likely cut the
state’s prison population by “several thousand” inmates while
generating corrections savings in the “low hundreds of millions” of
a CBPP calculations, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “National Prisoner Statistics,” http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps.
b “Proposition 47: Should California Reduce Penalties for Drug and
Property Crimes and Invest in Treatment?” California Budget Project,
September 2014, http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2014/140909_Proposition_47_BB.pdf.
c These seven categories are check fraud, drug possession, forgery,
petty theft, shoplifting, receiving stolen property, and petty theft
with a prior theft-related conviction. This change would not apply to individuals with prior convictions for violent offenses or registerable sex offences.
d “Proposition 47: Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties Initiative Statute,” California Legislative Analyst’s Office, http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2014/prop-47-110414.aspx.
Independent Commission to Monitor Implementation and Enforce Compliance
adopting significant criminal justice reforms can create an oversight
commission to craft and recommend further reforms, propose legislation,
assist in implementation, and evaluate the results. The commission
should include experts and individuals rooted in communities most
affected by high incarceration rates.
South Carolina, for
instance, created a bipartisan sentencing reform commission in 2008 to
recommend changes to state law. The commission proposed a set of
reforms in 2009 that, among other things, required fiscal impact
statements for future criminal justice legislation, eliminated
mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession, and expanded parole
eligibility for certain offenses. Projections indicated that these
reforms, enacted in 2010, would slow the growth of the prison
population over the next five years by 7.3 percent and save roughly
$241 million over that period. At the commission’s urging, policymakers
also created a standing oversight committee with the authority to
spend part of the resulting savings.
New York and New Jersey reduced their prison populations by 26 percent
between 1999 and 2012. California reduced its prison population by 23
percent between 2006 and 2012. See Marc Mauer and Nazgol Ghandnoosh,
“Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States,”The Sentencing
Project, July 2014, http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/inc_Fewer_Prisoners_Less_Crime.pdf
CBPP calculations, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Sentenced prisoners
under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities,
December 31, 1978-2013,” http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps.
Note that while the average person often uses the terms “prison” and
“jail” interchangeably, they refer to different criminal justice
facilities. As defined by the Bureau of Justice Statistics; “[j]ails
are locally-operated, short term facilities that hold inmates awaiting
trial or sentencing or both, and inmates sentenced to a term of less
than 1 year, typically misdemeanants. Prisons are long-term facilities
run by the state or the federal government and typically hold felons
and inmates with sentences of more than 1 year.” See http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=qa&iid=322.
 Jeremy Travis, Bruce Western, and Steve Redburn (editors), The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences, National Academies Press, 2014.
 CBPP calculations, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “National Prisoner Statistics,” http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nps.
CBPP calculations, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Imprisonment rate of
sentenced prisoners under the jurisdiction of state or federal
correctional authorities per 100,000 U.S. residents, December 31,
CBPP analysis of incarceration data from BJS and FBI, Uniform Crime
Reports, prepared by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data.
 Travis et al., p. 49.
Pew Center on the States, “Time Served: The High Cost, Low Return of
Longer Prison Terms,” 2012. Other studies have produced similar
findings. The National Research Council found that between 1980 and
2010, the time served for aggravated assault, burglary, and robbery
increased by 83, 41, and 79 percent, respectively.
 Robert J. Sampson and Charles Loeffler, “Punishment’s Place: The Local Concentration of Mass Incarceration,” Daedalus,
Summer 2010, pp. 20-31. (See Figure 3, “Spatial Concentration of
Incarceration in Chicago, 2000-2005,” on p. 24.) See also Visher and
Farrell (2005), which found that over half of former male prisoners
reentering Chicago from prison returned to just seven of the city’s 77
distinct community areas.
The study looked at census “block groups.” Traci Burch, “The Old Jim
Crow: Racial Residential Segregation and Neighborhood Imprisonment,”
American Bar Foundation, 2008, http://web.stanford.edu/group/scspi/_media/working_papers/Burch_Old_Jim%20Crow.pdf.
 Traci Burch, “The Spatial Concentration of Imprisonment and Racial Political Inequality,” https://apw.polisci.wisc.edu/archives/Burch%20Spatial%20Concentration%20of%20Imprisonment.pdf.
 See, for example, Holzer et al. (2003), Raphael (2007), and Schmitt (2010) on the impacts of incarceration on employment and wage prospects.
Steven Raphael, “Improving Employment Prospects for Former Prison
Inmates: Challenges and Policy,” National Bureau of Economic Research,
April 2010, http://www.nber.org/papers/w15874.pdf.
Caroline W. Harlow, “Education and Correctional Populations,” U.S.
Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, March 2003.
 Jon Schmitt and Kris Warner, “Ex-offenders and the Labor Market,” Center for Economic and Policy Research, November 2010.
 Bruce Western, “The Impact of Incarceration on Wage Mobility and Inequality,” American Sociological Review, August 2002,http://scholar.harvard.edu/brucewestern/files/western_asr.pdf.
 Pew Charitable Trusts, “Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility,” 2010.
 Robert H. DeFina and Lance Hannon, “The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Poverty,” Crime and Delinquency, February 23, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1348049
 “Collateral Costs.”
 Todd R. Clear, Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse, Oxford University Press, 2007.
Clear, citing William J. Sabol and James P. Lynch, “Assessing the
Longer-run Effects of Incarceration: Impact on Families and
CBPP calculations, National Association of State Budget Officers. The
year 1986 represents the first year of complete budget data on
corrections spending that states reported to NASBO. State spending
levels from years prior to 2013 are expressed in 2013 dollars.
 The share declined in only six states: Alaska, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Virginia, and Washington.
CBPP calculations, data from NASBO. Education spending includes
spending for higher education. Overall in FY 2012, roughly 45 percent
of state general fund dollars went to education (K-12 and higher
education combined), with another 20 percent going to health care.
 The number of K-12 students also rose over this period, by about 10 million students or about 25 percent.
 CBPP calculations, data from NASBO.
Michael Leachman and Chris Mai, “Most States Still Funding Schools Less
Than Before the Recession,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,
October 16, 2014, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4213.
Michael Mitchell, Vincent Palacios, and Michael Leachman, “States Still
Funding Higher Education Below Pre-Recession Levels,” Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities, May 1, 2014, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4135.
From 2007-08 to 2012-13, the latest data available. Authors’ analysis
of data from National Institute for Early Education Research, The State of Preschool 2013, http://nieer.org/sites/nieer/files/yearbook2013.pdf.
Louisiana, also among the ten highest-incarcerating states, is
excluded from this list because most or all of its very deep (76
percent) cut in state pre-K funding was offset by an increase in the
state’s use of federal TANF funds for the same purpose.
 See Timothy J. Bartik, “From Preschool to Prosperity,” W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2014, http://www.upjohn.org/sites/default/files/WEfocus/FromPreschooltoProsperity.pdf. See also Julia Isaacs, “Research Brief #1: State Pre-Kindergarten,” Brookings Institution, September 2008, http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2008/9/early%20programs%20isaacs/09_early_programs_brief1.pdf.
Bruce Baker, David Sciarra, and Danielle Farrie, “Is School Funding
Fair: A National Report Card,” Education Law Center, Third Edition,
February 2014, p. 32, http://www.schoolfundingfairness.org/ .
 See Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, “Does Class Size Matter?” National Education Policy Center, February 2014, http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/does-class-size-matter.
See also Matthew M. Chingos and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, “Class
Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy,”
Brookings Institution, May 11, 2011, http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2011/05/11-class-size-whitehurst-chingos.
 See National Center for Educational Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, 2007-08, Table 8 and 2011-12, Table 7.
 Kansas Center for Economic Growth, “Quality at Risk: Impact of Education Cuts,” August 2014, http://realprosperityks.com/kac/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/KCEG-school-funding-report3.pdf.
Baker, Sciarra, and Farrie, Table 8. A “high-poverty district” in
this study has a poverty rate of 30 percent, while a “low-poverty
district” has a poverty rate of zero.
 See, for example, Bruce D. Baker, “Evaluating the Recession’s Impact on State School Finance Systems,” Education Policy Analysis Archives, Volume 22, Number 91, September 15, 2014.
 Baker, Sciarra, and Farrie, pp. 17-18.
 Baker, Sciarra, and Farrie, p. 13.
 Sandy Baum et al., “Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,” College Board, October 2013, http://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/education-pays-2013-full-report-022714.pdf
 Mitchell, Palacios, and Leachman.
Overall, the cost of attending college has risen for low-income
students because the cost of room and board has increased, too. As a
result, the net cost of attendance at four-year public institutions for
these students increased 12 percent from 2008 to 2012, after adjusting
Marc Mauer and Jenni Gainsborough, “Diminishing Returns: Crime and
Incarceration in the 1990s,”The Sentencing Project, September 2000, http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sp/DimRet.pdf.
See ACLU of Southern California, “A Way Forward: Diverting People with
Mental Illness from Inhumane and Expensive Jails into Community-Based
Treatment that Works,” July 2014, https://www.aclusocal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/JAILS-REPORT.pdf. See also Families Against Mandatory Minimums, “Alternatives to Incarceration in a Nutshell,” July 8, 2011, http://famm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FS-Alternatives-in-a-Nutshell-7.8.pdf.
 Sarah Lawrence et al., “The Practice and Promise of Prison Programming,” Urban Institute, May 2002, http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/410493_PrisonProgramming.pdf.
See also Rand Corporation, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of
Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs that Provide
Education to Incarcerated Adults” 2013, p. 60.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Number of parole violation admissions of
sentenced prisoners to state or federal prisons, 1978-2013.
Significant research has been done on Hawaii’s HOPE program. See
Hawken, Angela & Mark Klaiman “Managing Drug Involved Probationers
with Swift and Certain Sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE,” December
2009, U.S. Department of Justice. For a summary of the program and its
results see, Pew Center on the States, “The Impact of Hawaii’s HOPE
Program on Drug Use, Crime and Recidivism,” January 2010, and VERA
Institute of Justice, “More than the Sum of Its Parts: Why Hawaii’s
Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) Program Works,” 2012.
 Michael Leachman et al.,
“Improving Budget Analysis of State Criminal Justice Reforms: A
Strategy for Better Outcomes and Saving Money,” Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities and American Civil Liberties Union, January 11, 2012,
Regardless of which method is used, states would do well to adopt the
practice of publishing a “current services baseline” — a projection of
the state’s costs to maintain the same level of services, absent any
relevant policy changes —in order to more easily estimate the savings
attributable to criminal justice reforms. Current services baseline
projections take into account inflation and other changes in the cost of
providing services, changes in the size of the population being
served, and past rule changes that are still being phased in. Such
projections are fairly uncommon at the state level; a 2011 CBPP report
found that fewer than half of states prepare current services
baselines. See Elizabeth McNichol and Dylan Grundman, “The Current
Services Baseline: A Tool for Understanding Budget Choices,” October
21, 2011, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3602.
 Nancy Lavigne et al., “Justice Reinvestment Initiative State Assessment Report,” Urban Institute, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2014, http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/412994-Justice-Reinvestment-Initiative-State-Assessment-Report.pdf.
The committee was required to spend the savings only on stronger
parole and probation programs. American Civil Liberties Union, “Smart
Reform is Possible: States Reducing Incarceration Rates and Costs While
Protecting Communities,” 2011, https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/smartreformispossible.pdf.