Dept. of Corrections: Juice boxes, shorter socks help reduce $53M in operation costs

The Department of Corrections expects to save $22,000 each year by purchasing shorter socks for offenders. It expects to save $220,000 each year by reducing the number of trashcan liners it purchases by 40 percent. The agency is implementing those cost-saving ideas and others recommended by its employees, according to Department of Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail.

Another cost-saving suggestion was to do away with juice fountains in prisons and provide offenders with juice packets instead. That will save an estimated $120,000 each year. The agency is also re-issuing clothes and underwear issued to offenders.

Due to the state’s declining revenue the Department of Corrections must reduce its across-the-board spending by nearly $53 million between now and June 30, 2011, which is the end of the two-year budget cycle. The agency continues to incarcerate more than 16,000 offenders in prisons and supervises more than 19,000 offenders in communities.

Department of Corrections staff members so far have submitted more than 1,500 cost-saving suggestions. One suggestion that was recently implemented was no more funeral and death-bed visits for offenders in prisons unless the offenders’ families pay for the escort and travel costs. That will save an estimated $43,000 each year. The prisons division expects to save money by using reusable bags at offender stores instead of paper ones.

“We’re looking at everything we purchase to figure out if we can do without it,” Vail said.