Declining Prison Population Heading Toward Goal of 25 Percent Decline by 2025

Last year, I wrote a post about mass incarceration in the United States and some of the policies that got us there (see the post here. Recently, there has been some new information about these rates. The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report called “Prisoners in 2016”, which found that the number of prisoners under state and federal control declined by 7% from 2009 to the end of 2016. While 34% of the decline was due to a reduction at the federal level, there has been a decrease at the state level as well.

As is the case in most other states, Illinois’s prison population dropped nearly 20% in the last five years. According to Dr. David Olson, co-director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice at Loyola University, most of the decline occurred within the last couple years. This is the largest decrease in prisoners since the late 1960s and early 1970s. Dr. Olson pointed out that most of the changes are due to local practitioners making changes during the five-year time frame, not through changes in state laws and policies. More recently, changes in state laws have gone into effect so Olson and the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform believe that the population will continue to decline, and hopefully will reach their goal of a 25% decline in prisoners by 2025.

As for public opinion on this decline, there is large public support for reducing mass incarceration. Most of the public agrees that we should reduce populations by changing sentencing for drug offenses and minor property offenses. While this is the case, Dr. Olson points out that it will be more difficult to make decisions about violent criminals and if and when they should be released from prison. Additionally, despite this decline, prisons are still significantly overcrowded (read more here).

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About Dr. Andrea Krieg

This blog was written when Dr. Krieg was serving as Assistant Professor of Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University in Illinois.

One thought on “Declining Prison Population Heading Toward Goal of 25 Percent Decline by 2025

  1. March 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    In 2010, I wrote this: after reading a Pew Study on incarceration and taking from an article in “real world economics review, issue 53,” “The high budgetary cost of incarceration.” Both wish permission and cited. The latter is interesting.

    Of course, the numbers of people incarcerated is an issue and is costly. In 2010, the cost of incarceration in Rode Island was $45,000 and $13,000 in Louisiana. I can only guess why in Louisiana (being facetious for the latter). Getting people out early is an issue as the Parole Boards are set up to be mini-courts. In Michigan, prisoners do over stay their minimum sentencing as determined by parole boards. Fix the issue and limit their ability to keep prisoners.

    At the other end of the justice system, 85% (or correct me) of all felony cases are plea bargained. Who can afford to pick a fight to win your case. To get one case into SCOTUS cost me greater than $100,000 and we had a good attorney who is a Dean of the School of Law in a California University. We could afford to do so and most people can not so they plea bargain and often sign away their rights to appeal. Here again, the system needs to be fixed.

    I assume you know what the AEDPA is? With in it is a segment which disallows COA from over ruling state courts. In silence state courts can say they did rule on the constitutionality cited in an appeal by a defendant. Again the system works against the defendant.

    What I am trying to point out here is there is more than just letting prisoners out early. Maybe they should never had been incarcerated.?



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