Tags: Voting Rights | oregon | prison | spending

How Much Does Oregon Spend on Prisons?

By    |   Monday, 01 Feb 2016 04:37 PM

Oregon's prisons are leading the way in the nation when it comes to reduced recidivism rates, but it comes at a high cost. Prison spending in the state was more than double higher education spending in 2013.

In the mid 1990s, Oregon began to crack down on crime and built new prisons worth millions. Stricter mandatory minimum sentences and longer sentences for some crimes caused the prison population to swell, and prison spending in Oregon began accounting for a large – and growing – chunk of the state’s budget.

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The cost of prison spending in Oregon was growing so much that in 2013, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber urged lawmakers to cut back on prison spending to find much-needed funding for the state’s education system. "The relentless growth in the Department of Corrections is one of the major reasons we cannot adequately invest in education," he said in a state address in January that year. "It costs $10,000 a year to keep a child in school; it costs $30,000 a year to keep someone in prison."

According to the National Institute of Corrections, Oregon’s budget for its prison system for fiscal year 2013-2014 was $1.4 billion as of December 2013. According to the Partnership for Safety and Justice, as of June 2013, Oregon’s direct cost per day per prisoner was $84.81. This cost includes not only basic expenses such as security, health care, and food, but also programs designed to keep inmates from re-offending and returning to the prison system.

At more than $200 million, prisoner health care alone accounted for 14 percent of the state’s budget fiscal year 2013-2014, notes the Willamette Week. The state did launch an effort to reform the prison system to save money, and though some measures were implemented, they might not cut costs as much as anticipated. The strategy involved reducing penalties for smaller crimes in order to reduce the prison population.

Though the plan was working to an extent, it probably would not save the predicted $66 million between 2015 and 2017, the Portland Mercury reported. The savings look to be $13 million less than predicted.

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Oregon's prisons are leading the way in the nation when it comes to reduced recidivism rates, but it comes at a high cost. Prison spending in the state was more than double higher education spending in 2013.
oregon, prison, spending
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2016-37-01
Monday, 01 Feb 2016 04:37 PM
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