Spending is an important aspect of criminal justice administration in any jurisdiction. In many instances, budgeting in public administration is a crossroads between policy issues and politics which makes prioritizing very essential. According to New Jersey Policy Perspective (2003), the spending in the state’s criminal justice system especially the correctional facilities has increased tremendously in the last few decades. This has been as a result of the rapid increase in the number of incarcerated offenders in the state correctional facilities where the number has tripled since early 1980s.
Consequently, spending in the correctional facilities in the state of New Jersey has been the fastest growing compared to other departments in the states and was estimated that the figure in the 2005 fiscal year would surpass the amount spent by all states in 1975. Moreover, since late 1990s, the correctional facilities in New Jersey have been operating at over capacity and are rated the sixth most crowded facilities in the country.
However, this increased spending due to increased incarceration has taken place as the rate of crime in the country is on a downward trend. The correctional facilities in New Jersey consists of fourteen state facilities, nine of which houses male offenders, one reserved for female offenders, three for juveniles while the one is designated as a reception and intake center. It is also the responsibility of the same department to manage offenders who have completed their sentence but are considered dangerous to the society (NJPP, 2003).
As the number of offenders housed in New Jersey states correctional facilities from under capacity in the early 1980s to over 135 percent in 2003, the spending in the correctional department increased proportionally. The large number of convicts incarcerated translated into a need for more staff to manage the systems. For example, the number of employees in the correctional facilities and related jobs were about 13,685. This number of employees was only second to the Department of Human Services.
However, the parole officers were needed due to the increased number of individuals under parole in the states surpassed the number of prison officers required in the correctional facilities. The number of offenders under parole rose from under ten thousand to over thirteen thousand between 1983 and 2003 (NJPP, 2003). As the number of individuals under incarceration and parole has increased over the years, the need for more budgetary allocation to the state correctional department has been inevitable.
According to the New Jersey Policy Perspective report, the money allocated to the correctional programs in the states rose by about 555 percent in twenty years hitting 1. 1 billion dollars in 2003 up from 203 dollars in 1983. There are many factors including changes in the law that are considered responsible for the increased number of inmates in the states correctional facilities and consequently increased spending. Some of them include changes in the law and statutes within the state’s jurisdiction such as the criminal code and drug laws enforcement statutes (NJPP, 2003).
In conclusion, the increased spending in the New Jersey correctional facilities is inevitable. Just as in other states and federal correctional institutions that have been overwhelmed by the increased number of incarcerated offenders or individuals under paroles in the last three decades, the New Jersey facilities have been equally affected by the trends. The increased need for more prison and parole staff, training and caring for offenders in the states facilities has skyrocketed spending in the New Jersey correctional department.