- Public sector
- Atlanta, GA, U.S.
- Project goals
- Understand the impact of prison policy and budgetary decisions
Achievements with Simul8
Greater predictability of short and long-term impact of policy and budgetary decisions
Saved $250 million of taxpayer savings by canceling the implementation a new sentencing system that was shown to have no benefit to public safety
Many jurisdictions face the daily challenge of avoiding a prison-crowding crisis. Their policy makers have two options: (1) to predict, fund, and build adequate space for their impending demand, or (2) take the necessary policy or legislative steps to reduce the number of inmates entering prison and/or reduce how long inmates stay.
Unfortunately prison populations vary naturally over time for a number of reasons:
- Changes in prison admission patterns
- Changes in the demographic make-up of offenders
- Changes in sentences imposed by judges
- Changes in resource allocation and prison capacity
- Annual legislative changes to criminal sanctions
Together, these factors interact in a dynamic system that complicates the efforts of planners to manage the growth of prison populations and to ensure prison beds are in place at the time beds are needed. Building too many prisons can be a costly investment, while building too few prisons can be a costly mistake that typically results in extensive social and legal costs (law suits, riots).
On average, it cost about $75 million to build one prison to house 1,500 offenders and more than $25 million to operate annually. In Georgia, for example, where the prison population exceeds 48,000 inmates, slight changes in sentencing practices or changes in parole release policies can have a profound impact on the prison population and state budget.
For the most part, states are still relying on statistical projections or were dependent on out of date simulation software or spreadsheets simulations. To assist in making such critical policy decisions, public policy planners are using Simul8 simulation models.
ARS specializes in building simulation models that mimic the flow of offenders into, through, and out of the state correctional systems, beginning with conviction and continuing with discharge from the the correctional system.
ARS's simulation models provide the ability to analyze the impact of changes in operating policies, sentencing practices, post release practices, and external system pressures on the system. This includes, for example, the projected impact of different sentencing models (guidelines, determinate, or indeterminate) on institutional bed space, jail backlog, correctional alternatives, resource allocation, specialized services (medical and mental health), and prison admissions and commitments.