PolicyNotes Banner



Correctional Populations in the United States, 2017-2018

Local Police Departments: Policies and Procedures, 2016

Reforming Fine & Fee Policies in the Criminal Justice System


Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: Fiscal Year 18

Groups: Civic Development in the Era of Truth Decay

Does Technology-Based Advising Promote Equity in Career and Technical Education?


Stress Test: People, Technology, and the Safety Net in Response to COVID-19

State Tax and Economic Review, 2020 Quarter 1

Economic Freedom Underpins Nordic Prosperity


Making Sense of Competing Estimates: The COVID-19 Recession's Effects on Health Insurance Coverage

Resilience, COVID-19-Related Stress, Anxiety and Depression During the Pandemic in a Large Population Enriched for Healthcare Providers

Exploring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and UK Lockdown on Individuals With Experience of Eating Disorders

September 4, 2020


An estimated 6.4 million persons were held in prisons or jails or were on probation or parole in 2018, marking a 19-year low in the number of persons under the supervision of adult correctional systems in the United States. This correctional population peaked at 7.3 million in 2007 and has declined every year since. Between 2017 and 2018, the correctional population declined 2.1%, and between 2008 and 2018, it declined 12.3%. By the end of 2018, about 1 in 40 adult U.S. residents were under some form of correctional supervision, down from 1 in 32 a decade earlier. In 2018, 2,510 out of 100,000 adult U.S. residents were under the supervision of adult correctional systems in the U.S. This marked a 26-year low in the adult correctional supervision rate. In Florida, the total correctional population fell from 361,600 in 2017 to 357,400 in 2018 (a decrease of 1.16%).

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

This report presents statistical data on selected policies and procedures of local police departments, based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' 2016 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey. The tables show national estimates and distributions by population served on topics such as average hours of officer training by type of training, written community-policing plans, annual operating budgets, written directives for officer conduct, written documentation for officers' display or discharge of firearms, authorized less-lethal techniques and restraints, and requirements for external investigations of deaths or use of force.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

Cities, counties, and states across the country face increasing scrutiny of their reliance on fines, fees, and penalties to fund governmental services, particularly in the public safety and criminal justice realm. While states and local governments recognize the many negative social consequences of relying on these revenues, many jurisdictions have struggled with the potential loss of revenues and resulting budget pressures. Counties wishing to limit or even eliminate completely their reliance on fines and fees revenues generated inside their criminal justice systems can take three specific steps to do so. First, by convening all key stakeholders, including community members directly affected by these policies and practices; gathering and sharing relevant data; and asking detailed questions about the nuts and bolts of these fines and fees — when they are imposed, what determines their amounts, how funds are collected, where the revenues go, how the revenues are ultimately spent, etc. — counties will develop a shared knowledge base and understanding among all stakeholders and partners. Second, counties analyze the information and data at hand to assess the current impact of the system overall, and specific fines and fees in particular, on individuals, communities, and public bodies, with particular sensitivity to impacts on disadvantaged community members. Finally, counties act. With analysis in hand, county officials can continue to work with affected community members and act decisively by passing needed legislation, developing implementation plans, and committing to ongoing benchmarking and measurement of progress. This report outlines best practices, expands upon the three suggestions and provide examples of fine and fee reforms in San Francisco (CA), Alameda County (CA), Los Angeles County (CA), Ramsey County (MN), and Davidson County (TN).

Source: PFM’s Center for Justice & Safety Finance


The finance tables and figures provide new data for national and state-level public elementary and secondary revenues and expenditures for Fiscal Year 2018. Specifically, the tables include school finance data for revenue and expenditure totals, revenues by source, expenditures by function and object, current expenditures, and current expenditures per pupil. Current expenditures per pupil on a national basis remained relatively level at $12,654 in Fiscal Year 2018, which is an increase of 0.9% from Fiscal y\Year 2017, following an increase of 1.7% between Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. Current expenditures per pupil ranged from $7,576 in Utah to $23,686 in New York. In addition to New York, current expenditures per pupil were among the five highest in the District of Columbia ($23,155), New Jersey ($20,316), Vermont ($20,149), and Connecticut ($20,147). In addition to Utah, current expenditures per pupil were among the five lowest in Idaho ($7,846), Oklahoma ($8,174), Arizona ($8,373), and Mississippi ($8,909). Florida’s expenditure per pupil in Fiscal Year 2018 was $9,663, which represents a 0.8% increase over Fiscal Year 2017.

Source: National Center for Educational Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

Teachers' trust in institutions can influence their ability to counter Truth Decay—the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life—in public school classrooms. This Data Note, one in a series, describes how social studies teachers for kindergarten through 12th grade responded to questions about their trust in institutions (from the federal government to news and social media platforms) and their willingness to accept recommendations or information provided by members of particular groups (from scientists and medical doctors to journalists and scholars). Findings include that fewer than half of teachers expressed trust in nearly all of the institutions they were asked about (from religion to the federal government), with the exception of secondary teachers' ratings of their trust in national newspapers. But fewer than half of teachers rated their trust in nearly any institution as greater than a 3 on a scale of 0 to 6, where 3 equals "neither distrust nor trust." The most-trusted institutions, according to social studies teachers, were organized religion, national newspapers, and network television, although secondary teachers were generally more likely to indicate trust in a variety of institutions than their elementary counterparts. Majorities of teachers indicated willingness to accept the recommendations of medical doctors, scientists, and scholars, although secondary teachers were more willing to accept recommendations from a variety of groups than were elementary teachers.

Source: RAND Corporation

Since the mid-2000s, career and technical education (CTE), formerly known as vocational education, has been undergoing a renaissance. Characterized at one time by programs that directed academically underprepared students into a relatively limited set of occupations with few opportunities for advancement, CTE today is more often linked to high-growth, high-wage career sectors designed to help students move toward sustainable, middle-class futures. Together, the proliferation of CTE combined with persistent inequities in CTE enrollment indicates a need for policies to ensure that all students have access to high-quality CTE programming. A first step toward reaching that goal is to make sure that all students can get both information about and support for making decisions about CTE and career-based opportunities. Despite this need, however, most high school guidance-counseling departments may lack the capacity to offer a level of career advising that complements the rise of CTE choices facing students. The national average student-to-counselor ratio has hovered around 450 to 1 for at least a decade, compared with the recommended student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to 1. Technology-based career-advising tools may help. Most such tools walk students through a series of holistic assessments designed to measure qualities like aptitude and personality, and they generate career recommendations to students that match these measured attributes. Because the tools yield recommendations based on the results of these assessments, rather than on social expectations, they may serve to increase equity by democratizing recommendations and access to information about careers across a diverse student population.

Source: MDRC

Government Operations

COVID-19 jolted the American economy, and it caused at least 30 million Americans to lose their jobs or have their working hours curtailed by April. The speed and volume of those suddenly un- and under-employed has been unprecedented, and it has resulted in a remarkable amount of stress on the nation’s social safety net. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other safety net supports administered by state governments struggle to meet the needs of millions of people. Some state online applications systems are so poorly designed that applicants remain stuck trying to access support weeks and months after beginning the application process. What can state human service administrators and policymakers do to build accessible intake and application systems? How should we re-design the safety net? This report seeks to better understand how to create a safety net that is people-centered, tech-enabled, and aligned with private benefit systems. The report recommends that government leaders streamline enrollment processes and cut the red tape required for enrollment to these programs. Benefit levels should be increased, direct cash payments made easier to receive and spend, and SNAP online purchasing (currently available in 43 states and the District of Columbia) expanded to every state and territory. In the rest of 2020, government leaders are encouraged to direct money and technical support to help state agencies switch to more efficient application processes.

Source: Aspen Institute

State government tax revenues showed year-over-year growth at 4.2% in the first quarter of 2020. However, preliminary data indicate double-digit declines in state government tax revenues in the second quarter of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and government responses. States’ economic performance has changed dramatically since then as the pandemic threw the economy into turmoil. Most economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), unemployment rate, employment, and personal consumption spending, reported the worst performance on record in the second quarter of 2020. State officials are now faced with a challenge of addressing large budget shortfalls in a dire economic environment. Looking at the next few months, states must address unforeseen revenue shortfalls and sudden increases in spending needs. Although most states had seen healthy growth in overall tax revenue collections during the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2020, state revenues declined abruptly in the final quarter of fiscal year 2020.

Source: Urban Institute

The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) offer valuable insights into the relative merits of various approaches to economic governance, both in short-term responses to the coronavirus epidemic and in the context of longer-term debates about the relative merits of socialist and capitalist ways of organizing economic activity. A never-ending key economic question facing any society is the degree to which economic activities should be organized or controlled by the state or based instead on the voluntary actions of individuals and the private institutions of civil society. The Nordic experience and its ongoing policy experiments demonstrate that free-market capitalism, not big-government socialism, is the best path to enduring prosperity and resilience. Key findings include that the overarching objective of economic policies must be to create an environment that provides the greatest opportunities for citizens to achieve prosperity and the Nordic countries remain prosperous because of their durable commitment to allowing their citizens a large measure of economic freedom.

Source: Heritage Foundation

Health and Human Services

The authors compare four studies that project the effects of the COVID-19 recession on employment-based health insurance coverage and the number of uninsured people in 2020. Several estimates have been published in recent months, but they vary widely and are difficult to reconcile. Most workers in the United States get health insurance coverage through their jobs, so policymakers are looking for answers to two main questions: How many workers losing their jobs are also losing their health insurance? And how many workers losing their employer-based coverage will become uninsured? The four studies each attempt to quantify the number of individuals losing employment-based health insurance due to COVID-19-related job loss, with figures ranging from around 5 million up to 30 million. Estimates of the increase in the number of uninsured people range from about 3 million to more than 8 million. Recent evidence from small household surveys is more consistent with the lower estimates or delayed impacts. Definitive data on changes in coverage are not yet available, so projections can supply useful information for policymakers. The value of these competing estimates lies in their transparent use of available data and careful presentation of final results in the context of considerable uncertainty about when and how insurance coverage will change as a result of the COVID-19 recession.

Source: Urban Institute

COVID-19 pandemic is a global calamity posing an unprecedented opportunity to study resilience. The authors developed a brief resilience survey probing self-reliance, emotion-regulation, interpersonal-relationship patterns and neighborhood-environment, and applied it online during the acute COVID-19 outbreak (April 6–15, 2020), on a crowdsourcing research website advertised through social media. The authors evaluated level of stress (worries) regarding COVID-19: (1) contracting, (2) dying from, (3) currently having, (4) family member contracting, (5) unknowingly infecting others with (6) experiencing significant financial burden following.. Totally, 3042 participants (n=1,964 females, age range 18–79, mean age=39) completed the resilience and COVID-19-related stress survey and 1,350 of them (mean age=41, SD=13; n=997 females) completed anxiety and depression questionnaires. Participants significantly endorsed more distress about family contracting COVID-19 (48.5%) and unknowingly infecting others (36%), than getting COVID-19 themselves (19.9%), covarying for demographics and proxy COVID-19 exposures like getting tested and knowing infected individuals. Patterns of COVID-19 related worries, rates of anxiety and depression did not differ between healthcare providers and non-healthcare providers. Higher resilience scores were associated with lower COVID-19 related worries. Increase in 1 standard deviation on resilience score was associated with reduced rate of anxiety (65%) and depression (69%), across healthcare and non-healthcare professionals. Findings provide empirical evidence on mental health associated with COVID-19 outbreak in a large convenience sample, setting a stage for longitudinal studies evaluating mental health trajectories following COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Translational Psychiatry

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may raise unique challenges for individuals with experience of eating disorders. Many factors have potential for detrimental impacts on psychological wellbeing and eating disorder recovery, including: disruption to living situations, ‘social distancing’ restrictions, difficult access to healthcare, and societal changes to food behaviors and technology usage. To date, little is known on the impact of the pandemic on this population, particularly within the United Kingdom (UK). A mixed-methods online survey was developed for the purpose of this study. Data was collected from 129 individuals currently experiencing, or in recovery from, an eating disorder during the early stages of the UK pandemic lockdown. Participants were aged between 16 and 65 years, with 121 participants identifying as female, 7 male and 1 participant preferring not to disclose their gender. Findings suggest that the pandemic is having a profound, negative impact upon individuals with experience of eating disorders. Eight key themes were generated: Disruption to living situation, increased social isolation and reduced access to usual support networks, changes to physical activity rates, reduced access to healthcare services, disruption to routine and perceived control, changes to relationship with food, increased exposure to triggering messages, and positive outcomes. The results suggest detrimental impacts on psychological wellbeing including decreased feelings of control, increased feelings of social isolation, increased rumination about disordered eating, and low feelings of social support.

Source: Journal of Eating Disorders

N O T E :
An online subscription may be required to view some items.


OPPAGA is currently seeking applications for Legislative Policy Analysts and Senior Legislative Analysts. Salary is commensurate with experience.


Government Program Summaries (GPS) is a free resource for legislators and the public that provides descriptive information on over 200 state government programs. To provide fiscal data, GPS links to Transparency Florida, the Legislature's website that includes continually updated information on the state's operating budget and daily expenditures by state agencies.


A publication of the Florida Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability

PolicyNotes, published every Friday, features reports, articles, and websites with timely information of interest to policymakers and researchers. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by third parties as reported in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect OPPAGA's views.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of PolicyNotes provided that this section is preserved on all copies.