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March 3, 2010

Two new reports from The Sentencing Project about state prison reductions

This new Washington Post article, which is headlined "States reduce prison populations as budgets shrink," details the major take-away points from two new reports coming today from The Sentencing Project.  Here is the start of the Post article:

Many state governments continued last year to reduce their prison populations through sentencing reforms enacted because of shrinking state budgets, according to two reports released Wednesday by a research group that advocates for lower rates of imprisonment.

In 2009, at least 19 states adopted criminal justice policies intended to cut down on the number of prisoners they house by shortening sentences, according to the Sentencing Project. For example, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island each scaled back mandatory sentencing laws for some drug offenses.

This page from the The Sentencing Project's website provides this overview (and links to) these new report:

As states grapple with the fiscal crisis and confront costly and overburdened criminal justice systems, two reports released today by The Sentencing Project offer roadmaps to successful prison downsizing that maintain public safety.  The reports document a growing trend to reform sentencing policies and scale back the use of imprisonment in order to control spending.

"Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States," released by Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project [and available here], finds that four states -- Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York -- have reduced their prison populations by 5-20% since 1999 without any increases in crime. This came about at a time when the national prison population increased by 12%; and in six states it increased by more than 40%. The reductions were achieved through a mix of legislative reforms and changes in practice by corrections and parole agencies....

Other states have joined this trend, and 2009 proved to be a high mark for such reforms. The Sentencing Project's report, "The State of Sentencing 2009: Developments in Policy and Practice," by Nicole D. Porter [and available here], highlights reforms in at least 19 states that hold the potential of further prison population reductions.

March 3, 2010 at 07:09 PM | Permalink


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if felony arrests are down, why are there continuing increases in police forces?

Posted by: m | Mar 3, 2010 7:29:35 PM

Just the facts? No interpretation?

And was there ever a time when the prison system wasn't costly and overburdened?

Posted by: westwood | Mar 3, 2010 9:03:52 PM

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