Corrections in the Crosshairs: What are States Doing to Increase Public Safety while Cutting Prison Spending?

Thursday, Nov. 12 | 3:30–5 p.m.

State spending on corrections has risen faster in the past 20 years than spending on nearly any other state budget item—increasing from $10 billion to $45 billion a year. Unless policymakers act, state spending on corrections will grow by at least $20 billion over the next five years. Federal judges in California, where prison crowding has reached record levels, have ordered the release of 43,000 state prisoners.  While crime has dropped in Golden State, its prison population has soared. But New York state is closing prisons as its crime rates plummet: The number of homicides in New York City recorded in 2009 projects to be the lowest since the city’s police department started keeping records in 1962. Why are corrections and crime trends so different in states?  What can elected officials do to spend less on corrections while increasing public safety?