Skip to main content
News

State Prison Populations Show Upswings, Declines

April 11, 2015
Newsweek reports on The Sentencing Project's recent analysis revealing broad variation in nationwide incarceration trends.

Newsweek reports on The Sentencing Project’s recent analysis revealing broad variation in nationwide incarceration trends: “Since 1999, 34 states have seen “at least a modest decline” in their prison populations, but 16 have recorded upswings, according to new data released by The Sentencing Project that demonstrate incarceration rates vary dramatically between states.”

New Jersey had the biggest drop in inmates since 1999, at 29 percent, while New York experienced a 27 percent decline and California’s since 2006 was 22 percent. Overall, nine states posted double-digit drops. Meanwhile, five states showed double-digit growth, with Arkansas topping the list at 17 percent, the Sentencing Project’s report states.

The changes in New Jersey, New York and California can be attributed in part to policy changes. In New Jersey, drug courts have steered many low-level narcotics offenders to supervised treatment rather than prison, according to the Sentencing Project. New York also saw increased use of drug treatment-diversion programs, and most importantly it overhauled the 1973 Rockefeller Drug Laws that, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, created “extremely harsh prison terms for the possession or sale of relatively small amounts of drugs” and largely affected low-level, nonviolent offenders. In 2009, the Rockefeller law mandatory minimum sentences “were eliminated or reduced,” a Sentencing Project analysis said, “and the revisions were made retroactive for persons still incarcerated under the old law.”

Read the full article in Newsweek.

 
Related Posts
publications
June 14, 2016

The Color of Justice 2016 Report

African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five states. This report documents the rates of incarceration for whites, African Americans, and Hispanics in each state, identifies three contributors to racial and ethnic disparities in imprisonment, and provides recommendations for reform.
publications
October 07, 2021

Sign-on Letter: Pass the Redefinition of Child Amendment Act of 2021

Justice organizations urge the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia to pass Bill 4-0338, the Redefinition of Child Amendment Act of 2021 as a necessary, common sense approach to juvenile justice reform that will create better outcomes for youth and communities, will treat children as children, and will make significant steps forward in advancing racial equity.