Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sentencing Project: Growing trend toward decarceration

A new analysis by The Sentencing Project reveals a growing trend toward decarceration across jurisdictions.

While 38 states and the federal government have at least modestly reduced their prison populations in recent years, our comparative analysis of U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2015 reveals that a growing number of jurisdictions have made dramatic progress. The total number of people held in state and federal prisons has declined by a modest 4.9% since reaching its peak in 2009. Yet 16 states have achieved double-digit rates of decline and the federal system has downsized at almost twice the national rate. Notably:

*Six states have reduced their prison populations by over 20% since reaching their peak levels: New Jersey, New York, Alaska, California, Vermont, and Connecticut.
*Several southern states that have exceptionally high rates of incarceration—including Mississippi, South Carolina, and Louisiana—have also begun to significantly downsize their prison populations.

Given that nationwide violent and property crime rates have fallen by half since 1991, the pace of decarceration has been very modest in most states and a quarter of the states continue to increase their prison populations. In particular:

*Fifteen states had less than a 5% decline since their peak-year prison populations.
*Twelve states have continued to expand their prison populations, with four producing double-digit increases since 2010: North Dakota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Minnesota.

These findings reinforce the conclusion that just as mass incarceration has developed primarily as a result of changes in policy, not crime rates, it will require ongoing changes in both policy and practice to produce substantial population reductions.
To read the analysis CLICK HERE

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