The Corrections System in New Hampshire

State and County Operations and Expenditures
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1415-10
Monday, June 8, 2015

Prison and jail populations have declined in most states since 2010, but have increased in New Hampshire. Corrections costs have also risen in New Hampshire in recent years. Understanding the reasons for corrections cost growth is complicated by a lack of systematic information on county jail spending in the state. This report aggregates information on the New Hampshire state and county corrections systems in order to analyze their finances, operational structures, and characteristics of inmates. It evaluates a range of budgetary and demographic information sources, since no single data source describes all ten county jails and all state prisons. Specifically, the analysis utilizes 2014 and 2015 information from state and county Departments of Corrections, federally reported data, and detailed Grafton County jail data. The first half of the report describes state and county inmates in terms of their gender, race, age, education, conviction status, and sentence lengths. The second half analyzes costs of state prisons and county jails, including costs for medical care and wages. Among other findings, the analysis shows that county jails account for over 40 percent of corrections spending in New Hampshire, with jail inmates awaiting trial and those with drug charges representing high-cost groups. Spending on medical care for state prisoners is comparable to state prison security spending. The report concludes by discussing implications for policymakers and budgets, including how New Hampshire might reduce its corrections spending while maintaining its historically low crime rates.