According to Ted Gest of The Crime Report, prison population increased last year breaking a four year trend. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, reported that the national total rose by 4,300 in 2013 to 1,574,700. Prisoner numbers went up in 27 states, an indication that tough sentencing continues in the courts even in an era of lower crime rates.
With at least 700,000 in local jails, not included in today's report, the national total behind bars remains well over 2 million.
Malcolm Young, a sentencing expert based in Washington, D.C., said he was "flabbergasted" by the rise, considering that there had been a decrease in sentenced prisoners in the states of nearly 50,000 in the three years starting in 2009.
Despite reforms in various states and the six-year-old federal Second Chance Act inmate re-entry initiative, noted that only six states had fewer prisoners at the end of last year than in 2000, Young said.
In previous years, Congress' failure to stabilize sentences was considered by analysts the primary reason for the continued expansion of federal prison rolls That wasn't a factor last year, however, as the number held in federal facilities fell by 1,900.
Much of the 2013 national increase was due to higher counts in states with the most prisoners to begin with: 2 percent in Texas, 1 percent in California, and 1 percent in Florida.
"These figures challenge premature and overly optimistic forecasts of the end of mass incarceration," said Marc Mauer, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project, which long has advocated for putting fewer Americans in prison.
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