Justice system operating expenditures in Alaska have been increasing much more quickly than the overall state budget. To a great extent, this is due to the steep rise in the correctional budget.
From FY 1984 through FY 2001, total operating costs for the major state justice system agencies (Court System, Public Safety, Corrections, Law and the Public Defender and Office of Public Advocacy) grew by 96.2 percent, from approximately $196 million to over $384 million. (Figure 1, Table 1). The total state operating budget, for all agencies, rose 59.4 percent over the same period, and the state population grew 20.7 percent (Figure 2).
These justice system totals do not include capital expenditures or local costs, such as for local police departments; nor do they include the budgets of those divisions that handle the administration of juvenile justice.
A significant portion of the overall increase in justice system expenditures can be attributed to the increase in the budget for the Department of Corrections. As Figure 1 shows, in dollars, the DOC budget rose the most sharply of any of the agencies. It almost tripled, increasing from just under $58 million in FY 1984 to close to $168 million in FY 2001.
The total operating expenses for these major justice system agencies also consumed a slightly bigger share of the overall state operating budget in FY 2001 (Figure 3). In FY 1984, the justice system share was about 7 percent. By FY 2001 it had climbed to close to 9 percent.