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PNS Daily Newscast - June 26, 2019 


Mueller to testify in open session; migrant children returned to troubled detention center; plus ending the school-to-prison pipeline, and seeking justice for Native Americans killed at Wounded Knee.

Daily Newscasts

New Study: In WA, Prison’s a Bigger Budget Item than College

February 29, 2008

Seattle, WA – Washington's prison population increased about 3 percent in the past year, by 565 inmates, bringing the state's total to more than 18,000. That's just one of many grim findings in a new study that says one out of every 100 Americans is now in prison. The Pew Research Institute's "Public Safety Performance Project" also concludes that we're not any safer, despite the additional money spent on prisons, and it questions what states are getting — and what they're giving up — for the money spent to incarcerate so many people.

In Washington, prison costs make up almost 6 percent of the state budget. To put prison costs in perspective, Pew study director Adam Gelb says, they compared states' corrections budgets to college budgets.

"Twenty years ago, Washington State was spending 23 cents on corrections for every dollar it was spending on higher education. Now, it's 55 cents on corrections for every dollar spent on higher ed."

Gelb points to tighter budgets, higher health care costs for those who are incarcerated, and prison overcrowding as factors prompting states to rethink their corrections systems.

"It's these kinds of impacts, where we see the corrections budget starting to crowd out other pressing state priorities, that are making state policymakers across the country say, 'Time out! We've got to find a better way.'"

The study suggests ways to control the growth of prison populations, including drug courts and short-term housing for substance abusers, and incentives for people to meet parole and probation requirements so they're less likely to be sent back to prison. However, some of these ideas are controversial to proponents of "tough on crime" policies.

The study, "One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008," is available at
www.pewtrusts.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA