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. While the study showed an overall decline, it revealed great variation among jurisdictions. The prison population declined in 27 states, while increasing in 23 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