Alaska Justice System Expenditures, 1984–2001

Alaska Justice System Expenditures, 1984–2001

Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. (Summer 2004). "Alaska Justice System Expenditures, 1984-2001." Alaska Justice Forum 21(2): 1-3. 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. This article provides figures on operating costs for Alaska's major justice system agencies—the Alaska Court System, the Departments of Public Safety, Corrections, and Law, and the Public Defender and Office of Public Advocacy—for state fiscal years 1984-2001. An accompanying sidebar story on justice system employment indicates that, compared with most other U.S. states, Alaska has a larger public employment sector in which justice system positions form a smaller segment.

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.

Figure 1. Alaska Justice Agencies, Operating Budgets, FY 1984 to FY 2001
Figure 2. Alaska Population, 1984-2001
Table 1. Alaska Justice Agencies, Operating Budgets, FY 1984 to FY 2001
Table 2. Alaska Justice Agency Budgets as Percentage of Total State Budget, FY 1984 and FY 2001