North Carolina’s prison population dropped by more than 1,000 people last year, and the state was not alone. More than half the states in the U.S. reported lower prison numbers.
The overall drop was 1.7 percent — more than 15,000 people across the country. This is in opposition to historical trends. Beginning in the 1970s, the population had grown every year until 2010.
While a significant portion of the decline can be attributed to California’s response to the Supreme Court’s order that it resolve its serious prison overcrowding issues, numerous other factors are at play. These include the economy, sentencing laws, crime rates and political priorities. The recession, for example, caused many states to cut the number of prisons.
We will explore this issue in more depth next week.
Source: New York Times, “U.S. Prison Populations Decline, Reflecting New Approach to Crime,” Erica Goode, July 25, 2013