Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Prisoner population declines nationally; Texas tops in private prison inmates

According to a new report (pdf) from the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
In 2011, 26 states had decreases in their prison population totaling 28,582 prisoners. California’s decline of 15,493 prisoners accounted for more than half of the total decrease (see text box on page 4). New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Florida, and Texas had decreases of more than 1,000 prisoners, and Connecticut and North Carolina had declines of more than 900.

California’s prison population declined by 9.4% in 2011, which was the largest percent change among the 51 jurisdictions. New Hampshire (5.3%), Connecticut (5.2%), and New Jersey (4.7%) experienced declines of about 5%.
Here's the official press release. This is the second consecutive year BJS reported a national, overall, decline in the total US prison population, though with California's rapid de-incarceration, that aspect of the report is perhaps unsurprising. Texas now has the largest prison population in the United States, said the BJS, with 172,224 prisoners at the end of 2011 compared to 149,569 in California, a state whose population is half again the size of Texas. (Next comes Florida, with 103,055 prisoners, then Georgia and New York, with just under 56,000 each.

Digging into the numbers a bit, though, what's happening is more complex, and more fundamental, than just the court-ordered decline in Golden State prisoners. Even with California's forced de-incarceration, the total number of releases from prison declined overall at state and federal prisons last year, according to BJS. But the number of admissions, particularly into state prisons, declined even more. "The 668,800 admissions into state or federal prison in 2011 was the lowest number of admissions since 2002."

Notably, said BJS, "Texas (18,603 inmates) and Florida (11,827 inmates) had the highest number of inmates in private prisons."

Here's a tidbit I didn't know: "More than 50% of all prisoners housed in local jails in 2011 were serving time in Louisiana, Texas, or Tennessee," though that's in part because "Louisiana incarcerated more than half (20,866) of its prison population in local jails," a process that was described in detail in an excellent New Orleans Times Picayune series. Still, that puts Texas among the states with the highest local jail incarceration rates.

RELATED: See from the Philadelphia Tribune, "$337 million in savings: States closing prisons as inmates decline."


Anonymous said...

Interesting story brewing in Houston about civil lawsuit filed against DA Patricia Lykos and an ADA.

Prison Doc said...

I'vr never understood how we can empty the state prisons as long as our county jails keep packin' 'em in.

Gulf Advocate said...

yes same here man never understood..

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The answer, Prison Doc, is that county jails overall aren't that packed. Statewide about 30% of jail beds are vacant, though there are individual jails that are full, mostly because of local policies. See that data on jail populations here.

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting lawsuit in the Dallas area involving 2 DPS officers that was on the channel 11 news. You can see from the dash cam video, a female officer violates two women who were stopped for littering. Watch the video, if I did that, I would be charges with a 3(g) sexual assault and be on the sex offender registry for the rest of my life. This is the training and the common tactic used on all women in the prison system. This tactic must be taught somewhere? This happens every day to women in TDCJ facilities. I saw an interview of one of the Russian punk group who is now in prison in Russia. She complains of human exploitation and is forced to work in a garment factory for 12 hours. She says she is paid though. Now the women who are forced to work in the garment factory in Gatesville are not paid. So in Gatesville we are guilty of human exploitation that is worse than in Russia because we force them to do it without pay. I would never buy a Texas state flag because that is where they come from. Human exploitation is legal in Texas and worse than in Russia. I read all the commits on how cruel the authorities are in Russia and how they are not a free country. Amazing, that we as a society accept this behavior in our own this country but demand accountability in other countries. The reason we have the highest prison population in the world in the state of Texas is simply. There is no oversight or accountability by anyone when it comes to TDCJ and especially the parole board. Texas is the only state in the country where everything the parole board and TDCJ does is top secret and there is no accountability what so ever to the public tax payers. Grits, if you have time look at the video of the roadside public sexual assault by the DPS officer.