Senior Director of State Fiscal Research
As I noted yesterday, state spending on corrections has soared in recent decades, leaving less for schools and other priorities. If states had spent the same share of their budgets on corrections in 2010 as in 1986, they would have had over $16 billion to protect these priorities from the harmful spending cuts imposed that year.
Several states have enacted criminal justice reforms in recent years that provide cost-saving alternatives to incarceration. These states have seen their crime rates remain at historically low levels or decline further. For example:
More states might take steps like these if lawmakers knew about the potential cost savings. The report we released this week with the ACLU describes how states can do a better job of analyzing the budgetary impact of criminal justice reforms.