Prisons making more demands on state governments reports on states trying to cope with runaway prison costs (the fourth biggest expenditure for state governments, after health care, education, and transportation). In Kentucky, this has meant the early release of 1,800 inmates; in Massachusetts, there are calls to reduce mandatory minimum sentences.

Massachusetts has a relatively low incarceration rate, but it has the second-highest cost per prisoner in the US: $43,026 a year. (Rhode Island is first.)

As reported in the current issue of CommonWealth, the Patrick administration is trying to cut costs by taking over county jails, which now depend on aid from the state.

So far, there's been no push on Beacon Hill to emulate the state of Alabama, where sheriffs who somehow feed inmates for less than $1.75 a day can personally profit from this brute efficiency.