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Department of Corrections Requesting $77 Million Increase For Next Fiscal Year

The head of the state prison system is reminding state lawmakers they’ve had a hand in the growing inmate population.

The Department of Corrections is requesting about $77 million more for the next fiscal year beginning in July, with most of the boost tied to personnel costs.

At a budget hearing, House lawmakers noted concern with the steady rise in spending at the agency.               

But Secretary John Wetzel said lawmakers shouldn’t be surprised, since many of them have helped pass legislation beefing up prison sentences.

"This is a logical consequence of policy decisions that were made by this body, by folks sitting in the governor’s office," Wetzel said.

Wetzel commended lawmakers for passing a legislative package known as Justice Reinvestment, which aimed to keep low-level offenders out of the prison system.

But he said since then, five laws have been signed that will result in a higher inmate population.

The agency is also asking for a $20 million supplemental budget boost for the current fiscal year, in part to help cover a population that hasn’t shrunk as quickly as expected.

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