State Correction Spending Rises While Incarcerated Population Declines

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Contrasting the declining incarcerated population with the increasing state spending on corrections, reform advocates called Tuesday for new reporting requirements to impose additional oversight on prisons and jails.

Between fiscal years 2016 and 2020, the average population of people in Department of Correction custody declined from 9,743 to 7,935, while the agency's total spending increased from about $580 million to more than $732 million.

Those figures, compiled by a commission examining how Massachusetts funds its correctional systems, featured as an area of focus as the panel heard feedback Tuesday from loved ones of incarcerated individuals and criminal justice reform supporters.

"The problem does not seem to be a lack of funding. DOC is spending more today on half the number of prisoners," John Bowman, an Access to Justice fellow, told the group of state lawmakers, sheriffs, state officials and experts.

The commission was originally given a deadline of Sept. 1, 2020 to submit a report, but after two extensions, it faces a new deadline of Jan. 31, 2022.

Written by Chris Lisinsky, State House News Service

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