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Department of Corrections Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Department of Corrections' annual general fund budget?

The department’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, is $177.4 million. This amount provides administration, programs and services for about 13,000 adult males and females in prisons, treatment programs or prerelease centers, sanction and assessment programs, on probation or parole, or on intensive supervision. It also includes about 130 juvenile offenders in correctional facilities, on parole or in other community programs.

What portion of the State's budget goes to the Department of Corrections?

The department's appropriation was 9.2 percent of the total general fund budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

How much of the department’s budget is spent on secure custody programs?

About 44 percent of the department’s budget is spent on secure custody and 34 percent is spent on community corrections programs.

How much of the budget is spent on administration?

About 5½ cents out of every dollar is spent on administration.

Where are offenders managed?

About 80 percent of all offenders are in programs outside of prison and about 65 percent of all offenders are on probation or parole.

What are the state-operated correctional facilities in Montana?

Montana has six state-run facilities:

  • Montana State Prison, Deer Lodge
  • Montana Women's Prison, Billings
  • Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility, Miles City
  • Riverside Youth Correctional Facility, Boulder
  • Treasure State Correctional Training center, Deer Lodge
  • Youth Transition Centers, Great Falls

What other correctional programs operate in Montana?

Eighteen other programs provide services under contract with the state:

  • Dawson County Regional Prison, Glendive
  • Cascade County Regional Prison, Great Falls
  • Crossroads Correctional Center, Shelby
  • Prerelease centers in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula
  • Nexus Treatment Center, Lewistown
  • Elkhorn Treatment Center, Boulder
  • Warm Springs Addiction Treatment and Change (WATCh), Warm Springs and Glendive
  • Sanction, Treatment, Assessment, Revocation, and Transition (START), Anaconda
  • Connections Corrections (drug treatment), Butte and Warm Springs
  • Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center, Missoula
  • Passages assessment, sanction, and treatment, Billings

How much does it cost to keep an inmate in a Montana prison?

It costs an average of about $97.63 per day to incarcerate an adult male at Montana State Prison and about $77 per day in a contracted prison. The daily cost for an inmate at the Montana Women’s Prison is about $104. These expenses include all department costs, such as medical, dental and overhead. The daily cost at juvenile facilities ranges from $333 to $481, due to the small youth populations.

What does it cost to supervise an offender in community corrections programs?

The per-day cost at a prerelease center is $64 for males and about $72 for females. The daily cost of treatment programs ranges from $80 to $147. The daily cost of supervising an offender on probation or parole is $4.62.

Why are incarceration costs higher at Montana State Prison and Montana Women’s Prison than at contracted facilities?

Montana State Prison and Montana Women’s Prison provide services that are not available to same degree in contracted facilities. This includes medical, mental health and dental care; education; and inmate work programs. Also, the two state run prisons are the only facilities capable of housing maximum-security and other higher-custody inmates, along with the most elderly and infirm inmates.

What is Montana’s recidivism rate?

For adult offenders, the rate of return to prison for any reason within three years is 39.2 percent. The rate for male offenders is 39.9 percent and the rate for female offenders is 34.4 percent. The recidivism rate for juvenile offenders is 28 percent.

What is Montana’s incarceration rate?

Montana’s rate of incarceration is 367 state and federal prisoners for every 100,000 residents, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. That compares with a national rate of 492.

Do offenders in correctional facilities have to work?

Many offenders in prison or at prerelease centers are working, attending educational programs, participating in treatment programs, or some combination of the above. About 70 percent of the 1,500 inmates at Montana State Prison and 58 percent of those in contracted facilities are involved in work, education or programming. About 90 percent of the women at Montana Women's Prison are involved in educational or vocational programs. Offenders in prerelease programs are expected to work in order to stay in the program.

How much do inmates get paid?

Average wage is 65 cents an hour, although some earn more if working in federally certified programs.

Do offenders have to contribute to their care?

Some of the wages earned by prison inmates go to pay for basic hygiene supplies, victim restitution, fines, family or child support, and other expenses. Offenders in prerelease centers contribute up to $14 per day for their room and board, buy their own clothes, and pay restitution and fines.

What is minimum, medium, close and maximum security?

All Montana prisons use six levels of custody classification to assess the amount of risk posed by an offender. This assessment includes criminal and institutional violence history, program needs, and supervision requirements. These levels dictate the degree to which an inmate's movements are restricted. Minimum and medium each contain two levels of custody. Minimum indicates the lowest risk and the least restriction on movement. Medium is a step up in risk and restriction. Close custody represents higher risk and more restriction in movement. Maximum is the highest risk classification and the greatest restriction.

Do inmates have access to e-mail so they can correspond with family and friends?

No. Inmates may only correspond by regular mail and collect phone calls. For security reasons, inmates also do not have access to the Internet.

What is the average age of offenders in Montana?

The average age of all offenders under department supervision is 38.9 years, or 2½ years older than in 2000. The average age of female offenders is 38.4 years old. The average age of male offenders is 38.4 years. The average age of female offenders in prison is 37 and the average male inmate is 40 years old.

Do correctional officers carry guns?

Most do not, although some assigned to certain posts are armed. Montana prisons have a detailed Use of Force and Firearms policy that authorizes specific posts to carry firearms. All officers are trained in this policy and required to qualify annually on authorized firearms. Other than the situations authorized in policy, most firearms are kept in a facility’s armory.

What do offenders in correctional facilities eat?

A balanced diet consisting of three full meals a day is offered to all offenders housed in Montana prison facilities. A licensed dietitian is on staff to ensure a properly balanced diet is maintained.

What medical care do inmates receive?

Montana State Prison has a fully staffed infirmary with services including medical, dental and vision. It sees about 100 inmates a day. Powell County provides for critical and long-term care needs of the offenders in its modern, fully staffed hospital. The Montana Women’s Prison contracts with a community clinic for a full range of medical care and uses private physicians and local hospitals as necessary. Crossroads Correctional Center has its own infirmary, nurses and medical director, and contracts with local doctors for additional care. The Cascade County Regional Prison and Missoula Assessment and Sanction Center contract with a private provider for nursing services, and obtain service from local doctors as needed. Dawson County Regional Prison has its own medical staff and contracts with local doctors and hospital for additional care.

What does the department spend on medical care for inmates?

Including health care staffing costs in the state-run facilities and providing outside medical care, the department spends about $20 million a year to provide offenders with medical care.

What kinds of treatment programs are available for inmates?

Programs include a sex offender program, chemical dependency treatment, anger management, parenting skills, and cognitive restructuring. A criminal-thinking program helps offenders determine what is wrong with their thinking and make changes.

What kinds of treatment programs are available for offenders in community corrections?

Through private providers, the state offers treatment for methamphetamine addiction, chemical dependence, alcohol abuse, drunken driving, and mental health problems.

What are the most frequent offenses for which offenders are sentenced?

Among men, felony drunken driving, criminal endangerment, drug possession and burglary are the most common crimes. Drug possession, theft, criminal endangerment, bad-check writing and drug selling are the most common among women.