Justice System Operating Expenditures

Justice System Operating Expenditures

Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage. (Spring 2009). "Justice System Operating Expenditures." Alaska Justice Forum 26(1): 2-3. This article looks at changes in justice system operating expenditures for the period FY 2000-2010, and total operating expenditures for all state agencies for the same period. FY09 final budget for the State of Alaska includes $229 million in stimulus funds, a portion of which have been applied for by the Department of Public Safety, including the Alaska State Troopers. Total Alaska justice system operating expenditures grew by 68 percent from FY 2000-2010 while the total state operating budget for all agencies grew by 75 percent.

Expenditures for the major justice system agencies-the Departments of Corrections, Public Safety, and Law, the Alaska Court System, Public Defender Agency, and Office of Public Advocacy-have comprised about 9 percent of Alaska's total state agency spending for the past ten years (FY 2000-2010).

Looking at overall state budget figures, for FY 2009, the final Alaska state operating budget for all agencies totals $6.34 billion which includes $229 million in stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The Department of Public Safety including the Alaska State Troopers have applied for a portion of the stimulus funds on behalf of themselves and other entities. Details concerning specific amounts and projects are still in the process of being confirmed.

FY 2009 is the first year the legislature has provided general budget funding for the ongoing role of Anchorage-based Partners for Progress in the operation of Alaska's therapeutic courts, primarily those dealing with drug and alcohol offenders. (See "Therapeutic Jurisprudence.") For ten years this nonprofit organization has used year-to-year federal and state grants to fund services that are not within the scope of traditional court system operations. These services include court-ordered therapeutic groups, sober housing and basic living expenses for participants starting the court program, plus training for therapeutic court team members who are not within the Alaska Court System. The $65,000 budget item will cover about 25 percent of the cost of ongoing therapeutic courts services provided by Partners for Progress. This same amount, $65,000, has been appropriated for FY 2010.

For FY 2010, the total state operating budget for all agencies for projected expenditures is $6.14 billion, a decrease of about $200 million from FY 2009. Total Alaska justice system operating expenditures grew by 68 percent from FY 2000 actual expenditures of $337 million to FY 2010 projections of $566 million. (See Table 1.) Over the same period, the total state operating budget for all agencies grew 75 percent.

Table 1. Alaska Justice Agency Budgets as Percentage of Total State Budget, FY 2000 and FY 2010

These figures are for state operating expenses only and do not include statewide items such as debt service, fund capitalization, direct appropriations to retirement, and special appropriations. The figures do not include capital expenditures or local costs (such as city police departments), or the costs of those divisions that handle juvenile justice administration, nor do they include federal justice system costs in Alaska. The totals do include all revenue sources: state, federal, and other, but have not been adjusted for inflation.

Within the justice system budget slice, the proportions allocated to the different agencies have changed somewhat over the years. The Department of Corrections portion declined slightly from 46 percent of total justice agency expenditures in 2000 to a projected 40 percent in 2010, and Public Safety stayed about the same. All other agency portions increased slightly from FY 2000 to FY 2010: the Department of Law went from 9 to 11 percent, the Alaska Court System from 15 to 16 percent, and the Office of Public Advocacy and Public Defender from 5 to 7 percent.

Periodic variances in year-to-year justice agencies' expenditures during FY 2000-2010 have been due in part, for example, to higher costs of inmate care, facilities operations, and offender programs for the Department of Corrections, and gas pipeline and oil and gas matters at the Department of Law.

Total expenditures for each individual justice system agency have increased at differing rates over the past ten years. From FY 2000 to FY 2010, budget for the Office of Public Advocacy and Public Defender increased by 127 percent, and the Department of Law increased by 117 percent. The Department of Public Safety and Alaska Court System budgets grew by 71 percent and 80 percent respectively, while the budget for the Department of Corrections was up by 46 percent during this same time period. (See Table 2 and Figure 1.)

Note: Budget figures for FY 2000-2008 represent actual operating expenditures. Figures for FY 2009 are for the final operating budget, and figures for FY 2010 represent the projected operating budget. Figures for justice agency expenditures and total state operating expenditures from FY 2000-2004 contain adjustments to actual expenditure figures that were not available for and were not reflected in earlier Forum articles. Budget figures have not been adjusted for inflation.

Table 2. Alaska Justice Agencies, Operating Budgets, FY 2000 to FY 2010
Figure 1. Alaska Justice Agencies, Operating Budgets, FY 1984 to FY 2010