Prison Count 2010

“For the first time in nearly 40 years, the number of state prisoners in the United States has declined, according to Prison Count 2010, a new survey by the Pew Center on the States. As of January 2010, there were 1,403,091 persons under the jurisdiction of state prison authorities, 5,739 fewer than on December 31, 2008. This marks the first year-to-year drop in the nation’s state prison population since 1972.”

So reports the Pew Center on the States in Prison Count 2010. As they observe, despite the slight drop in state incarcerations, the nation’s total prison population increased by 1,099 people due to an increase in the number of federal inmates, which rose by 3.4 percent (6,838 prisoners) to an all-time high of 208,118.

The report authors explain the historical context of these numbers when they indicate that “prior to 1972, the number of prisoners had grown at a steady rate that closely tracked growth rates in the general population. Between 1925 (the first year national prison statistics were officially collected) and 1972, the number of state prisoners increased from 85,239 to 174,379.

“Starting in 1973, however, the prison population and imprisonment rates began to rise precipitously. This change was fueled by stiffer sentencing and release laws and decisions by courts and parole boards, which sent more offenders to prison and kept them there for longer terms. In the nearly five decades between 1925 and 1972, the prison population increased by 105 percent; in the four decades since, the number of prisoners grew by 705 percent. Adding local jail inmates to state and federal prisoners, the Public Safety Performance Project calculated in 2008 that the overall incarcerated population had reached an all-time high, with 1 in 100 adults in the United States living behind bars.”

Kansas witnessed an increase rather than a decrease in incarcerations, but a comparatively mild one of 102 additional prisoners, a rise in the prison population of 1.2 percent to a total of 8,641. This placed the state near the midrange, between the extremes of California, with a decrease of 4,257, and Pennsylvania, with an increase of 2,122. Indiana registered the greatest increase in percentage terms (5.3 percent), while Rhode Island led in percentage decrease (-9.2 percent). Among the fifty states, 27 showed a decrease, while 23 experienced an increase in prison population.

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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