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February 23, 2024

Notable new analysis of notable (old) data on prison admissions

The data on prison admissions (from 2021) reported in this new Crime and Justice News item caught my eye this afternoon.  Here are the details:

A new analysis from the Council of State Government Justice Center found that despite recent declines, parole-probation violators still make up a large proportion of new prison admissions. In 2021, 44% of state prison admission were people who violated the terms of their parole or probation sentences. And on any given day, 1 in 4 people in state prison were incarcerated because they violated the terms of their supervision. Those proportions have remained constant, even as overall numbers have decreased....

Incarceration for violations of supervision declined in 2020 and, in many states, continued to drop in 2021.  Ten states — Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, New Jersey, Kansas, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Vermont — reduced admissions by 50% or more.  The declines are part of a larger trend: from 2018 to 2021, across the country, the numbers of prison admissions from community supervision decreased by one-third. Part of that was due to decreased criminal activity during the height of the pandemic, with the exception of homicides and intimate-partner violence. It was also affected by changes in supervision practices and court backlogs.

Researchers examining those states where supervision incarcerations fell — and where they didn’t — have found no significant relationship between changes in the number of people incarcerated for supervision violations and changes in violent-crime rates at state levels.  But in 2021, states collectively spent more than $10 billion incarcerating probation-parole violators. More than $3 billion of that was for technical violations, not for new criminal activity....

Racial disparities begin prior to criminal-justice-system contact and persist at all stages of the system.  When looking at parole and disparities, 18 states — including much of the Deep South —  did not exhibit disparities in revocation rates, while 20 states increased the disparities.  Twelve states — including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — reincarcerated Black parolees at a 20% or higher rate.

February 23, 2024 at 02:37 PM | Permalink


Doug, you be the judge:


Posted by: federalist | Feb 23, 2024 2:49:54 PM

Interesting case, federalist. Outcome seems pretty lenient to me, though I was struck by this line in the press piece: "Grieving dad Felix Cardenas said the family begrudgingly agreed to a plea deal to avoid the pain of a trial and the risk of Zarate being acquitted."

Posted by: Doug B | Feb 23, 2024 2:59:47 PM

I think the prosecutor has to roll the dice here. The guy didn't mean to kill the kid, it seems clear, but you cannot have people chasing and beating kids either. Prob a little different culture in Texas.

Did you see the Fani fiasco. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Of course, she might get over when it comes to perjury. What should happen: she pays ALL of the defendants' legal fees, she is prosecuted and she is disbarred.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 23, 2024 3:08:07 PM

federalist --

Fani Willis is about to set the cause of "first black female prosecutor" back about 10,000 years. There of course is nothing wrong with being first or black or female. But there's plenty wrong with funneling tax money to yourself through your boyfriend, and then lying about it. A person like Ms. Willis should never be near the power to prosecute, not Donald Trump and not anyone.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 23, 2024 4:39:54 PM

Amen, Bill. Let's see what Doug has to say.


Doug, here's an update on a case you cited.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 23, 2024 6:31:16 PM

federalist and Bill: I am always eager to see lawbreaking/corrupt/deceitful/self-serving public officials out of office (which is why, inter alia, I sure wish I had a choice other than Biden/Trump this fall). I have not followed the tawdry DA details closely in GA, but what I have heard leads me to think Willis needs to be shown the door.

And thanks, federalist, for flagging the Esformes outcome. I'd welcome your account of whether you'd describe DOJ actions here as good or bad politics. Absent some better explanation by DOJ officials, it would seem DOJ brass decided it disliked getting (political) grief from House GOP folks. So DOJ decided to cut its (political) losses with a sweetheart plea deal. In the wake of Trump's clemency, I viewed the entire re-prosecution as misguided and constitutionally suspect, and so I do not see this plea outcome as in any way principled. But it likely reduces political headaches for DOJ. Is that still more evidence of DOJ corruption in your view, federalist?

Posted by: Doug B | Feb 24, 2024 10:50:17 AM

Doug, it's distasteful, but probably in the category of "bureaucrats gotta bureaucrat". It is bad. Sometimes government has to accept defeat.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 27, 2024 11:59:27 AM

Yep, but which defeats that DOJ and other government actors accept, and which ones they fight (and how they fight) is also political.

Posted by: Doug B | Feb 27, 2024 1:37:38 PM

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