Posts Tagged ‘prison overcrowding’


If even Mississippi has discovered that it cannot afford to imprison everyone, then when are we in Illinois going to get the message?

Why Mississippi Is Reversing Its Prison Policy

“… the incarceration boom appears to be reversing. Between 2008 and 2009, state prison populations fell slightly, by 0.3%, to 1.4 million, the first such decline since the 70s. There are several reasons for the shift. The first is money. The Great Recession decimated state coffers, and is forcing governments to acknowledge they can no longer afford spending $52 billion a year locking people up. The second reason is demographics: people between 15 and 34 – prime ages for criminal activity – account for about 27% of the American population, compared to about 32% in 1990, near the violent-crime wave’s peak.

Those shifts, coupled with the over-saturation of prisons, partly explain why the violent crime rate has dropped to the lowest point in almost 40 years. Between 1997 and 2007, New York State’s prison population shrank by 9.4%, or 6,500 inmates, according to the Pew Center on the States, and the state’s violent crime rate almost halved. The takeaway, says James Austin, a leading criminal justice expert: “You can cut back on the size of the prison population without having a negative impact on crime….”