Recidivism is an issue that has grown increasingly relevant for the public safety community as state budgets continue to be stagnant and/or decline. Recidivism is the return to crime, and is most frequently used to describe a person’s return to incarceration. In one study by the U.S. Department of Justice, it was revealed that over two thirds of released prisoners were rearrested within three years (Reentry Trends, USDOJ). Current estimates of the number of state housed inmates and prisoners were around 1.4 million as of January 2010 (Prison Count). The average annual cost for a state to house an inmate and/or prisoner is roughly $26,000 (Schmitt, p.13). Couple this with an annual 1.8% growth rate of incarcerated individuals over the last decade (Prison) and you get an annual increase of $650 million in prison costs.
This sizeable increase in the cost of operating jails and prisons is particularly difficult during the current economic times, where revenues have significantly declined and budget shortfalls are commonplace. So how can states address the rising concern of recidivism? Many have increased the number of incarcerated persons placed on parole and probation. Nevertheless, supervising the estimated 5 million individuals under some type of parole and/or probation has its own associated costs (Prison). In order to develop a real solution to stemming the rising tide of incarceration it is necessary to first gain a real understanding of the underlying causes and contributing factors to recidivism.
Grant funding related to jails over time has changed from a “bricks and mortar” focus on solely jail construction to a more proactive approach aimed at understanding the prison population. Today, the Department of Justice offers numerous grant programs that support state and regional initiatives aimed at data collection and information sharing across public safety domains. Police departments, courts, jails, and parole/probation services are encouraged to work together to share information so that the underlying causes of recidivism can be both better understood and addressed. Grant programs such as the Criminal Justice Innovation Grant Program, Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, and Second Chance Act grants, among others, award millions of dollars annually for projects that utilize technology to better collect and analyze data related to jail populations.
The verdict is clear. Prison related costs are rising, but so is the number of jail-related grant funding opportunities available to States and regions. States and regions interested in SunGard’s Jail Management Systems, cross-jurisdictional records management systems, and other information sharing technologies would serve themselves well to become acquainted with the growing number of jail related grant programs offered through the federal government annually. To learn more about these programs, contact Erin Randall, SunGard Grants Specialist, at Erin.Randall@sungardps.com today.
Schmitt, John, et al. “The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration”. Center for Economic and Policy Research. June 2010. http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/incarceration-2010-06.pdf.
Portman, Senator Rob (Portland, Oregon). “Cut Recidivism, Slash Spending”.
Politico. Online Magazine. 14 December 2011. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70370_Page2.html.
“Prison Count 2010: State Population Declines for the First Time in 38 Years”. Pew
Center on the States, The. Report Released 17 March, 2010. Update 1 April 2010.
“Prison and Jail Inmate Population Growth Slows”. Correctional News. Online Article. 5 January 2010. http://www.correctionalnews.com/articles/2010/01/5/report-prison-and-jail-inmate-population-growth-slows.
“Reentry Trends in the U.S.” Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Last Revised 14 December 2011. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/reentry/recidivism.cfm.