One in 99.1, and sometimes worse

Anybody considering their votes on the latest lock-em-up proposals on the Oregon ballot really owes it to read the just-released (released today) report on prison populations from the Pew Center on the States. The headline finding is that one out of every 99 adult Americans is now behind bars – an incredible thing in itself.

There’s a chart on page 14 showing, by state, how much of the state general funds corrections eats. Turns out the highest in the nation is Oregon, at 10.9% – and that was a 4.6% increase in portion of the general fund over the last 20 years.

All three Northwest states have something to learn and grimace at here, though. In Idaho, the percentage of general fund is 6.9% (up 3.8%), and in Washington 5.9% (up 2.4%). The national average is 6.8%. Nationally, over the last two decades, spending on prisons and corrections has risen 127%, while spending on higher education has risen 21%.

And Idaho has some of the most spendy trends: it incarcerates 784 of every 100,000 people in the states – 11th highest in the nation – to Oregon’s 531 and Washington’s 465.

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