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Historic low prison growth forecasted for the state

Earlier forecasts had predicted higher growth


The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis recently released its semi-annual forecast of prison growth in Oregon for the next 10 years. The new forecast calls for the lowest 10-year prison growth rate ever predicted by the Office of Economic Analysis.

The report indicates that by 2023 the Oregon prison inmate population will have grown by 1,939 inmates, or 13.5 percent, which will be essentially the same as the 12.6 percent growth in general state population.

Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote, who is also a member of the 2012 Commission on Public Safety, said, “This is exactly what we have been saying all along, and it is good news for Oregon. There is no crisis in prison growth in this state. Our prison inmate population is not exploding. General state population growth will be the primary reason for prison growth, not sentencing policy. This means that our state’s growing population will produce the revenue needed to fund growth in the justice system. And that’s really good news.”

Legislators in Salem were awaiting the forecast to understand how many prison beds would need to be funded by the end of the next biennium on July 1, 2015. Earlier forecasts had predicted growth to more than 16,000 inmates by July 2015, but the current non-seasonally adjusted forecast (which is the forecast that is most useful for budget calculations) has scaled that figure back to 14,973.

Prison inmate costs in Oregon run more than $30,000 per year per inmate, so the new forecast means a substantially lower price tag than had been anticipated for Oregon prisons in the years to come.

The prison forecast is at oregon.gov/DAS/OEA/Pages/corrections.aspx.




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