Tags: Voting Rights | oregon | prison | healthcare | spending

How Much Does Oregon Spend on Prison Healthcare?

By    |   Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 03:16 PM

Oregon's prison system has been touted as one of the best in the nation, with a remarkably low rate of recidivism.

However, when Oregon got tough on crime several years ago, the crackdown dramatically increased the number of inmates, which required Oregon to allot more of its budget to funding the corrections system, including directing more money toward prison healthcare spending.

In fact, Willamette Week reported that prison healthcare spending in Oregon has doubled since 2003.

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Willamette Week also noted that coming in at more than $200 million, prison healthcare spending in Oregon accounted for 14 percent of the state’s budget fiscal year 2013-2014.

During the 2011 legislative session, according to The Oregonian, state lawmakers cut back on the amount of money dedicated to services for the elderly and for addiction treatment for young people, so spending wouldn’t have to be cut back on prison healthcare services.

The newspaper also noted that as of June 2011, the state legislature had doubled the amount of money allocated to prisoner healthcare over the preceding 10 years.

The rising costs were due in part to the prison population itself. According to The Oregonian, half of incoming prisoners had mental health issues.

And as Willamette Week noted, Oregon had a higher percentage of elderly prisoners than any other state, as revealed by a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trust. This aging population created additional costs. In fact, by 2010 the population of prisoners aged 55 or older had increased four times faster than the general population over the preceding 15 years.

Oregon had estimated that some of these patients, especially those in the worst health, cost the state $500,000 a year each, according to Willamette Week. The high cost was due also in part to Oregon’s tougher stance on crime, including enacting mandatory minimum sentences and increasing the sentences for some crimes.

This harder line kept some inmates incarcerated longer than they might have been in other states, which left them imprisoned as they aged and developed severe and chronic illnesses.

Treatment for a single patient had been known to reach over $1 million in a single year, and in 2011 there were almost two dozen patients whose medical care exceeded $100,000.

From 2009 to 2011 prison healthcare spending in Oregon accounted for 10 cents – or 15 percent of every dollar from the state’s general fund. As of 2011, the state was spending four times on prison healthcare what it spent on the state’s education department and seven times what it spent on its justice department.

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Oregon's prison system has been touted as one of the best in the nation. However, a crackdown on crime dramatically increased the number of inmates, which required Oregon to allot more of its budget to funding the corrections system, including directing more money toward prison healthcare spending.
oregon, prison, healthcare, spending
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2016-16-11
Thursday, 11 Feb 2016 03:16 PM
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