« New academic piece discussing child porn sentencing in an internet age | Main | "Prosecutors want Nacchio to attend June resentencing" »

March 17, 2010

New Pew report indicates that state prison populations declined in 2009

As detailed in this New York Times article and this piece from Stateline, a new report from the folks at Pew indicates that "state prison populations, which have grown for nearly four decades, have begun to dip ... largely because of recent efforts to keep parolees out of prison and reduce prison time for nonviolent offenders."  Here is more from the NYT piece:

State prisons held 1,403,091 people as of Jan. 1, nearly 6 percent fewer than a year before, the report said. Prison populations have fallen in 27 states in that period, while they have risen in 23.

“It’s too early to tell whether this is a tap of the brakes or a shift into reverse,” said Adam Gelb, the director of the public safety performance project of the Pew Center on the States in Washington, which produced the report. Still, Mr. Gelb said, seeing the state prison numbers dip for the first time since 1972 “took us a little bit by surprise,” he said.

In the same period, the population in federal prisons increased by nearly 7 percent.

The results broaden the conclusions in a report issued this month by the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group in Washington that looked at efforts to reduce the prison populations in Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. That report found that all four states had achieved reductions, with New York reaching a 20 percent reduction and New Jersey 19 percent over a decade.

Marc Mauer, the executive director of that group, said the reduction was actually overdue, since crime rates have declined for some 15 years. “That’s the puzzling piece — why did this take so long?” he asked. The lag, he said, was partly the result of longer sentences and partly because of tough standards in many states for revoking parole.

The Pew report noted that while the squeeze on state and local budgets had contributed to efforts to reduce prison populations, “financial pressures alone do not explain the decline.” At least part of the fall-off resulted from changes like California’s decision to reduce the number of low-risk people on parole returning to prison because of technical violations, and Texas’ decision to step up its residential and community-based treatment programs. “If you had to single out the most common reform that we’re seeing,” Mr. Gelb said, “it’s various strategies to hold parole violators accountable, short of jamming them back into a $25,000-a-year, taxpayer-funded prison cell.”

The full 10-page Pew report, which includes a state-by-state accounting of prison population changes, can be accessed at this link.

March 17, 2010 at 08:44 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201310faf0510970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference New Pew report indicates that state prison populations declined in 2009:

Comments

There is a small chance that crime causes incarceration. If the crime rate drops, so does the prison rate. One of the reasons the crime rate has dropped is that a lot of the baddest guys are in stir.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 17, 2010 10:34:16 PM

The results broaden the conclusions in a report issued this month by the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group in Washington that looked at efforts to reduce the prison populations in Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey and New York. That report found that all four states had achieved reductions, with New York reaching a 20 percent reduction and New Jersey 19 percent over a decade.

Posted by: guild wars 2 gold | Sep 8, 2010 2:28:49 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB