State Characteristics and Spending on Corrections

During the past 30 years, the US prison population has expanded dramatically. Empirical research examining this trend has most often focused on changes in prison admissions and populations. Few studies have examined the effects of state-level corrections budgets. In this study, researchers extend prior work by analyzing variations in the proportion of annual, state-level expenditures that are spent on corrections. They find that states’ partisan politics, racial composition, economic prosperity and budgetary priorities affect state corrections expenditures. Increases in spending on education and welfare are shown to be inversely associated with spending on corrections, even after crime rates, poverty and a host of state-level characteristics are controlled.