Court orders and ballot measures like Jessica's Law have helped fuel spending, which has climbed 79% since '03.
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The check is due! We have been incarcerating more people for a longer period of time and now we have to pay for that luxury. Corrections budgets continue to crowd out the other major sectors of state spending - health care and K-12 education. Foolish policies such as "three-strikes" legislation have primarily served to incarcerate individuals at a time when age desistance was impacting their criminal offending while allowing elected officials to pander to the ignorance of the populace.
We now have over 2.2 million people in prison, a significant number of whom have serious (and expensive) health care issues. Legislatures are reluctant to raise taxes, so spending on other services is constrained. We must have for accountability - what is the return on the "investment" in prisons?