Skip to main content

On the Chopping Block 2011: State Prison Closings

August 03, 2011
In 2011, at least thirteen states have closed prison institutions or are considering doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by over 15,500 beds and reversing a 40-year trend of prison expansion.

As a result of recent policy changes and pressures brought on by the fiscal crisis, state lawmakers are closing prisons after 40 years of record prison expansion.

Declining prison populations in a number of states have resulted in excess prison capacity. During 2010, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported the first decline in the overall state prison population since 1977 and found 24 states had reduced prison populations during 2009.

In 2011, at least thirteen states have closed prison institutions or are contemplating doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by over 15,500 beds. Since 2002, Michigan has led the nation in this regard. The state has closed 21 facilities, including prison camps, as a result of sentencing and parole reforms. Overall, the state has reduced capacity by over 12,000 beds for a total cost savings of $339 million. Other states, including New Jersey and Kansas, have also closed prisons in recent years amid changes in sentencing policy and parole decision making that have resulted in a decline in state prison populations. Maryland also reduced prison capacity when it closed the Maryland House of Corrections in 2007 by transferring 850 prisoners to other prisons.

This report documents the growing trend of states to close prisons. To read the report, download the PDF below.

Related Posts
March 31, 2021

Race & Justice News: Maryland Will Test Racial Impact Statements

Whites became more punitive near large Black populations in post-Jim Crow era, Maryland will test racial impact statements to assess legislation, Virginia police task force discontinues use of gang database, and more in Race & Justice News.
March 25, 2021

Voting Rights News: Oregon Considers Universal Suffrage

The Sentencing Project worked closely with state coalitions in Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas to expand voting rights to citizens with felony convictions. We developed a series of briefing papers highlighting each state’s voter exclusion policies and the laws’ impact on citizens with criminal legal involvement.