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The prison price tag

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High Five
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The state prison agency takes nearly 10% of general fund money, adding up to a bigger share of tax collections on prisons than any other state.

"I have very little flexibility financially," said Max Williams, the former Republican legislator now in charge of the Corrections Department. Oregon voters send him more inmates, without adding money to guard, feed and reform them.

Judges tell him to provide more medical care, contributing to a tripling of expense, now $100 million a year. The state has no choice but to provide dental care, treat a host of medical conditions and increasingly act as a mental health practitioner.

State executives outside the agency also impose on Williams pay raises and restrictions on work conditions for most of his 4,400 employees, which includes corrections officers and managers, as well as support personnel.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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