Justice System Operating Expenditures

Justice System Operating Expenditures

Justice Center. (Winter 2007). "Justice System Operating Expenditures." Alaska Justice Forum 23(4): 1, 10-11. This article briefly describes changes in Alaska justice system operating expenses from fiscal year 1984 to fiscal year 2006. During this time, expenditures have increased 145 percent. The rise was dominated by an increase in the budget of the Alaska Department of Corrections, which almost dobutled between FY 1990 and FY 2006.

Alaska justice system operating expenditures grew by 145 percent between FY 1984 and FY 2006, rising from slightly under $196 million to almost $479 million. Over the same period the total state operating budget grew by 160 percent (Tables 1 and 2). (The total state operating budget grew by 62 percent in the five years from FY 2001 to FY 2006.) In FY 1984 the operating expenses of the major justice system agencies (Department of Law, Court System, Department of Corrections, Public Defender Agency and Office of Public Advocacy, Department of Public Safety) formed 7.3 percent of the total state operating budget and in FY 2006, 6.9 percent, (Figure 1). These figures are state operating expenses only; they do not include capital expenditures or local costs, such as for city police departments; they do not include the costs of those divisions that handle juvenile justice administration; nor do they include federal justice system costs in Alaska.

While the portion of the state total that the justice system budget occupied remained almost the same over the twenty-two years, within the justice slice, the proportions held by different agencies changed markedly. The Department of Corrections constituted a much bigger share in FY 2006 than in FY 1984—41 percent vs. 30 percent (Figure 3). As Tables 1 and 2 show, over this period the DOC budget grew from almost $58 million to just under $196 million—more than tripling. (For a discussion of the increase in the Alaska prison population, see “U.S. and Alaska Incarceration Rates: Prisoners in 2005” in this issue of the Forum.)
The portions held by the Public Defender Agency and the Office of Public Advocacy and the Department of Law also increased over the same period, while those of the Alaska Court System and the Department of Public Safety declined. DPS, in particular, held a much smaller slice of the total in FY 2006, declining from 39 percent to 26 percent.

(These budget figures, published by the Legislative Finance Division, have not been adjusted for inflation.)

Table 1. Alaska Justice Agency Budgets as Percentage of Total State Budget, FY 1984 and FY 2006
Table 2. Alaska Justice Agencies, Operating Budges, FY 1984 to FY 2006
Figure 1. Alaska Justice Agency Budgets as Percentage of Total State Budget, FY 1984 and FY 2006
Figure 2. Alaska Justice Agencies, Operating Budgets, FY 1900 to FY 2006