The Corrections Department was established by the legislature in 1959 (Laws 1959 c263), bringing together in one department the functions formerly performed by the independent Youth Conservation Commission, the Board of Parole, and the Corrections Division of the Department of Public Welfare. The Youth Conservation Commission continued within a Youth Conservation Division until 1973. The Board of Parole and Probations was replaced by the Adult Corrections Commission operating as part of the Division of Adult Corrections (also until 1973).
A service and regulatory agency, the department has a broad scope of activities and responsibilities. The department currently operates ten correctional facilities including eight for adults and two for juveniles (as of January, 2011). It provides probation, parole, and supervised release services; it provides subsidies to local units of government through the state Community Corrections Act for community-based corrections services; and it provides services and assistance to victims of crimes.