Montana State Legislature

Department of Corrections

The Montana Department of Corrections’ staff enhances public safety, supports victims of crime, promotes positive change in offender behavior, and reintegrates offenders into the community.

Services are provided through the following:

  • Housing and attending to adult or youth offenders in secure care facilities both owned and operated by the state or under contract with a private or local government entity that owns and operates the facility under contract with the state. Examples of state facilities for adults are the Montana State Prison, the Montana Women’s Prison. An example of a state facility for youth is Pine Hills Youth Correctional Center
  • Contracting with private not-for-profit entities for treatment and supervision in a treatment or community-based setting such as pre-release centers, transitional living centers, methamphetamine or alcohol treatment facilities
  • Supervision of adult offenders on probation or parole, or youth on parole with state probation and parole officers
  • Providing job skills and training for offenders via a vocational education placement operated by state employees. Examples of vocational education includes the prison ranch and dairy, prison license plate factory, prison furniture and upholstery factory

This report includes a series of charts that compare expenditure growth to the growth in the economy and growth in inflation adjusted for population. Montana statute, 17-8-106, MCA, recommends using growth in personal income for comparison purposes. Personal income is a measure for growth in the economy. Comparing growth allows financial planners to consider past and future demands in services or changes in revenues.

The Board of Crime Control was moved into the Department of Corrections (DOC) in the 2019 biennium.  These charts reflect both agency’s budgets combined since 2002.

The all funds growth is primarily attributed to the increase in offender population. The budget for the DOC is driven by multiple factors that tend to relate to offender populations such as the following:

  • Number of offenders
  • Age of offenders
  • Length of stay under DOC custody
  • Facility operating costs and staffing personnel

With the exception of FY 2009 and FY 2013, population numbers have increased by between 2.0% and 6.0% roughly each fiscal year.  Historically, when offender populations have grown at a higher rate than was anticipated, supplemental appropriations were necessary. Corrections received supplemental funding in FY 2005, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019.

While funding for the department has increased in a manner very similar to that of the offender population, more notable increases are the following:

  • In the 2007 biennium, $6.0 million was provided for contracted beds at existing contracted facilities, $9.0 million was approved for the movement of a larger percentage of inmates to pre-release facilities, $5.5 million was approved for the building and staffing of a new revocation center at MSP to create 85 new beds for offenders
  • In the 2009 biennium, $47.2 million was added for population related increases such as annualization of community correction programs, increased number of P&P officers, development of a new prerelease center in northwestern Montana, increases in contracted bed numbers, and annualization of increased capacity established in FY 2007

General fund

The department of corrections is supported primarily through the general fund (historically, around 92.0-95.0%). Increases in general fund support are primarily driven, once again, by increases in the number of offenders and the need to annualize contracted beds to house the growing offender population overseen by the department.


State special revenue

While large increases in expenditures from state special revenue since FY 2002 have occurred, state special revenue incorporates a small portion of the department’s expenditures (roughly 2.0%-4.0%). Therefore, spikes in expenditures from state special funds, are quite small.

In FY 2015, state special revenue support for the agency increases due to legislative action that shifted funding for expenditures from the general fund to state special revenue funds, including supervision fees, restitution administrative fees, and parental cost of care payments for juveniles. In the 2021 biennium, a career ladder for probation and parole officers was formed and funded with state special revenue in the amount of $600,000 for the biennium.


Legislative Changes

The following legislative changes adopted by the 2019 Legislature include:

  • HB 111 –This bill transfers the responsibilities of juvenile parole supervision from the Department of Corrections to the Youth Court within the Judicial Branch. The funding for this bill was included in HB 2
  • HB 369 –This bill provides for the appointment of members and council duties for the Criminal Justice Oversight Council and requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide clerical and administrative services to the council
  • HB 684 –This bill made permanent the policy that requires the department to reimburse healthcare providers for services rendered to individuals under DOC supervision at no more than Medicaid rates and amends the definition of "telework" to allow the department to contract with psychiatrists not living within the state of Montana
  • HB 763 –This bill creates requirements associated with restrictive housing for inmates. These requirements relate to admission, release, inmate reviews, health and mental health treatment, notification and criteria for an inmate leaving the unit directly to the community, and other conditions of confinement

The following legislative changes adopted by the 2017 Legislature include:

  • SB 59—This bill revised criminal justice laws related to pretrial programs, creates an oversight council to monitor and report on the effects of criminal justice legislation, provides quality assurance direction, and provides an appropriation of $28,000 for the purposes of funding the council
  • SB 60—This bill revised various criminal justice laws and presentence investigation laws, funded the department in the amount $0.7 million from the consumer protection transfers to the general fund
  • SB 64—This bill revised laws related to the board of pardons and parole. The department has been funded in the amount of $60,000 from consumer protection fund transfers to the general fund
  • HB 650—This bill provided funding from the consumer protection fund to support sentencing commission bills in the amount of $1.0 million, allocated the Montana Board of Crime Control into the Department of Corrections, removed the mandated use of the Treasure State Correctional Training Center, and limited the amount of payment to a regional correctional facility to no more than was paid on December 6, 2016 2015 Legislature:

The following legislative changes adopted by the 2015 Legislature include:

  • HB 233—This bill moved administration of juvenile placement funds from the department to the Judicial Branch


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Legislative Studies

Law & Justice Interim Committee work


Audit Reports

Financial Compliance Audit - Department of Corrections - April 2019

Performance Audit - Effectiveness of Contracted Community Corrections Programs in Reducing Recidivism - June 2020

Performance Audit - A Comparative Evaluation of State-Operated and Contracted Men's Prisons



HB 244, Revise death penalty laws related to lethal injection

HB 331, Requiring legislators to have access to adult and youth correctional facilities

HB 335, Repeal Death Penalty


SB 19 amendments  Revise staffing and structure of Board of Crime Control

SB 47 and fiscal note and amendments  Generally revise laws related to DOC commits

SB 50 and amendment  Revise membership of the Board of Crime Control

SB 71, Remove penalties for law enforcement re: health officer assistance

SB 222, Revising name change petition process for person in DOC custody/supervision

Agency profile information provided by the Legislative Fiscal Division.

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