Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett proposed no increase in prison funding in next year's budget, holding the line at $1.9 billion. This budget would stop a decades-long trend of rapidly rising costs. Similar cost pressures in other states prompted a private prison company to reach out to every state seeking to buy state run correctional facilities.
However, Pennsylvania officials say full privatization — which Ohio did with one of its prisons last year — is off the table. "We're reviewing everything, but the full and total privatization of an SCI (state correctional institution) is not something we're looking at," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan Bensinger told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The number of inmates in state prisons increased from a little more than 8,000 in 1980 to 51,000 this year, according to the Department of Corrections. While the prison population skyrocketed by about 540 percent, the state's population increased just 7.4 percent, reported the Tribune-Review.
State prison spending topped $1 billion for the first time in 1998 and rose to about $1.9 billion this year. According to the Tribune-Review, the rapid increase prompted some conservatives to second-guess the decades-long trend toward harsher sentencing guidelines and tough-on-crime campaigning.
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