Prison Count 2010: State Population Declines for the First Time in 38 Years
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 1,404,053* persons under the jurisdiction of state prison authorities, 4,777* fewer than on December 31, 2008. This marks the first year-to-year drop in the nation's state prison population since 1972. While the study showed an overall decline, it revealed great variation among jurisdictions. The prison population declined in 26* states, while increasing in 24* states and in the federal system.
In the past few years, several states have enacted reforms designed to get taxpayers a better return on their public safety dollars. These strategies included:
• Diverting low-level offenders and probation and parole violators from prison
• Strengthening community supervision and re-entry programs
• Accelerating the release of low-risk inmates who complete risk reduction programs
*Numbers updated as of April 1,2010 (PDF) (Report originally released March 17, 2010) - Prison Count 2010 Errata (PDF)
A link to the full report is below. Also read the related press release Pew Survey Shows State Prison Population Dropped in 2009.