State prisons and local jails are overcrowded, reported the Washington Post. The problem is especially acute in 17 states where the prison population is now higher than the capacity of the facilities designed to hold them.
Those states, still recovering from a recession that decimated budgets, have to decide whether to build facilities with more beds, turn to private contractors, relax release policies — or simply stuff more prisoners into smaller spaces.
At the end of 2013, Illinois was housing 48,653 prisoners, according to data published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The state’s prison facilities are designed to hold just 32,075 prisoners, meaning the system is operating at 151 percent of capacity. North Dakota’s 1,571 prisoners live in space meant for 1,044 people, 150 percent of capacity.
Nebraska, Ohio, Delaware, Colorado, Iowa and Hawaii are all holding a prison population equal to more than 110 percent of capacity.
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