Thursday, June 24, 2010

Texas helps lead first decline in number of state prisoners since 1972

Via Sentencing Law and Policy, I'm fascinated to see this new federal report (pdf) documenting that state prison populations declined in 2009 for the first time since 1972. Notably: "About three-fourths (71.7%) of this decrease resulted from declines reported in six states reporting decreases of more than 1,000 prisoners: Michigan (down 3,260), California (down 2,395), New York (down 1,660), Mississippi (down 1,272), Texas (down 1,257), and Maryland (down 1,069).

By contrast, "Offsetting the total decrease of 15,223 state prisoners was a total increase of 12,282 prisoners in the remaining 26 states. Five of these states reported increases of more than 1,000 prisoners and accounted for more than half (60.7%) of the total increase: Pennsylvania (up 2,214), Florida (up 1,527), Louisiana (up 1,399), Alabama (up 1,282), and Arizona (up 1,038)."

I don't know about y'all, but I'm pleased to see Texas on the first list instead of the second, and I'm hopeful legislators will continue to make smart choices during the coming budget crisis to expand on that trend and keep it going.

7 comments:

R. Shackleford said...

I hope they will too, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Call me cynical, but I think the record shows a daunting lack of good judgement for as long as I care to remember.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Michigan did to unload almost three times as many prisoners.

Rage

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Rage, As I understand it, Michigan actually closed prison units, used parole and commutations to lower numbers directly and focused resources on reentry. See this description.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we're headed in the opposite direction with our "reforms."

Rage

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That's exactly right, Rage, in Texas they've focused on front-end diversion and in Michigan they used back-end mechanisms (parole and commutation). There's more than one way to skin a cat, though it should be mentioned the two approaches aren't mutually exclusive.

Anonymous said...

Somebody tell Jack Skeen and Matt Bingham in Smith County.

randye said...

Grits, i didn't dig down in the pdfs at the links, but I didn't see anything on why the decrease. Any idea or place to go to find out?