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Report: New York spends 22-per cent more on prisons

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-1001675.mp3

New Paltz, NY – Taxpayers in New York State pay an average 22% more for state prisons than the state's annual corrections budget reflects, a first-of-a-kind national study shows. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

While it is common knowledge that some prison costs are tracked outside their budgets, The Vera Institute of Justice's Price of Prisons report marks the first time these costs have been quantified for prisons across the states. To calculate the true total price of prisons, Vera developed a survey tool that tallied costs outside corrections budgets. 40 states including New York participated in the research organization's study.

Report co-author Christian Henrichson says states across the country have taken various measures to curb corrections expenses. New York state also has a pro-active "Alternatives to Incarceration" program, and last year Governor Andrew Cuomo closed several prisons. But some county-level prisons still struggle to adequately house inmates.

George Krom is the Correction Administrator at the Dutchess County Jail. Krom explains the Jail has an increase in the number of inmates it's taken in over the last 5 years. The jail is fully-funded by the county budget - Krom says officials are constantly on lookout for new spaces to house inmates.

In New York State, the prison population decreased by 18 percent from 1999-2009. During that period, violent crime decreased by 30 percent. The Vera study calculates New York State's total costs for its adult corrections and prison programs at $3.3 billion.

The New York State Corrections officials did not return calls for comment.