Rising Prison Population Could Cost Wisconsin Taxpayers Nearly $150 Million

Nov 6, 2018

Over the past three decades, Wisconsin’s state prison population has increased by more than 200 percent, and it’s expected to keep growing. According to a brief by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, that growing number will also lead to a growing budget.

"There is virtually no federal funding or any other source of revenue for the department's operations. So, Wisconsin taxpayers are on the line for almost 90-100 percent of the DOC's budget."

The Department of Corrections is asking for an additional $149.4 million in its 2019-2021 budget. David Callender from the Policy Forum says, the increase will directly impact Wisconsin taxpayers.

"There is virtually no federal funding or any other source of revenue for the department’s operations. So, Wisconsin taxpayers are on the line for almost 90-100 percent of the DOC’s budget."

There are a variety of reasons for the increase in people entering the prison system, but one of the main culprits is parole violations, which lead to parole being revoked.

Callender explains, "Revocations are now the leading cause, or the leading reason for admissions to prison. So, they are the number one source of inmates entering the prison system again ... We're talking about roughly 20-25 percent [of prison admissions] back in the 1990s. It's now up to roughly about 30 percent as of 2017."