Montana Budget Cuts Could Worsen Prison Safety
Budget cuts in Montana are posing a serious threat to prison security in the state. The government is proposing to cut funding to the Montana Department of Corrections. The proposed budget cuts would hurt at least three programs, and the state prison system would be forced to shed employees and close some facilities.
Following the budget cuts, the department will have to close the Lewistown Infirmary, which is a care facility for low-security male inmates with chronic health conditions, including disabilities. Those inmates may have to be moved to a regular state prison, which will contribute to prison overcrowding. About 25 of such inmates—some of whom who are completely bedridden, confined to wheelchairs, or have to use walkers—may be left with no proper care or housing.
The budget cuts will also force the Department of Corrections to close Youth Transitions Center, which is a youth services department that houses seven youth sex offenders who were discharged from juvenile prison but are not yet ready for parole. These offenders will have to be moved back to Pine Hills, a juvenile prison, where 10 jobs will be cut.
The proposed budget cuts will also end the department’s plans to create a drug addiction treatment center, despite there supposedly being a grave need for it.
The budget proposal would result in dozens of employees losing their jobs at the state facilities. As a consequence, the remaining staff will be carrying additional workloads while the prisons get more crowded.
The Montana Department of Corrections is facing $40.2 million in budget cuts as Montana Governor Steve Bullock urges all state agencies to cut back their spending by as much as 10%. Montana’s Department of Health also faces significant budget cuts.
Despite currently having a budget surplus, the State of Montana is expected to run into a budget shortfall of nearly $230.0 million in the coming two years, and Bullock wants the state agencies to prepare for it.
“Budget cuts would risk prison safety, make jail crowding worse,” Montana Standard, October 2, 2017.