U.S. Prison Population Drops to 1.6 Million

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released two new reports on prisoner population in 2010. The total number of prisoners has declined for the first time in 40 years. But while the number of state prisoners declined, the number of federal prisoners increased.

The total U.S. prison population fell to 1.6 million at year end 2010, a decline of 0.6 percent during the year, the first decline in the total prison population in nearly four decades.

This decline was due to a decrease of 10,881 in the number of state prisoners, which fell to just under 1.4 million persons and was the largest yearly decrease since 1977. The federal prison population grew by 0.8 percent (1,653 prisoners) to reach 209,771, the smallest percentage increase since 1980.

1 in 33 adults, 7.1 million people, were under the supervision of adult correctional authorities at the end of 2010. The reports are Correctional Population in the United States, 2010 and Prisoners in 2010.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Is part of this a result of some states (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 01:55:41 PM EST
    sending inmates back to the county system?

    I can't (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 03:09:43 PM EST
    speak for everybody but here in GA it's because of budget problems. They have decided to release a ton of nonviolent offenders because they can't afford to keep them.

    I think we have the same here in CA, (none / 0) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 03:18:07 PM EST
    releasing some offenders and sending others to the county systems.

    When moral arguments fail... (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 03:32:16 PM EST
    I'll settle for monetary arguments for same succeeding.

    In California, (none / 0) (#5)
    by Zorba on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 03:33:02 PM EST
    a large part of it is because the Supreme Court ordered California to reduce the size of their prison population
    in order to alleviate extreme overcrowding that endangers the health and safety of the state's prisoners and prison staff.

    Many future prisoners will be going to local rather than state jails, as well.  Link.

    The county (none / 0) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 04:29:02 PM EST
    jails here in Ga can't afford to keep them either. They will ask for bail money and if you can't make it they will keep them for a time and then when they realize that you really, really, mean it and you aren't going to bail them out, then they just let them out.

    The omitted ICE detainees (none / 0) (#7)
    by Michael Masinter on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 05:09:28 PM EST
    The fastest growing part of the prison industrial complex is the array of ICE detention centers. http://www.ice.gov/detention-facilities/ From a cursory glance, it appears the two reports do not include individuals detained in those facilities.

    Naturally. Non-persons don't count - (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Mr Natural on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 09:42:22 PM EST
    ergo, they can't be counted.

    1 in 33 Stark reality. (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 05:34:36 PM EST

    Yup. Not to be a pedant (none / 0) (#9)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 06:49:20 PM EST
    but there's 300MM+ Americans, so it's really 1 in 43, not 33.

    Still a really big number...


    I didn't "do the math." (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 09:42:56 PM EST
    At 1.6ml... (none / 0) (#12)
    by desertswine on Thu Dec 15, 2011 at 10:02:48 PM EST
    the prison population would be the 5th largest city in the US, between Houston and Philadelphia.

    And we'll see more of this in the future (none / 0) (#13)
    by SeeEmDee on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 06:56:35 AM EST
    The inexorable vise of a failing economy will force lots of changes...like, possibly, the end of the War on Drugs as we know it. It wouldn't be the first time.

    We tried to arrest our way out of one
    'social ill' only to create worse ones. But when times got tight, all the rhetoric in the world couldn't keep that gravy train going.

    The pattern's been repeated, but because of all the 'busy little Eichmanns' of drug prohibition all getting moolah for their 'efforts', the system's been allowed to run on its' own for so long it's going to take a major social eruption (like people asking why we're spending so much on chasing pot-heads when people need that money for the social safety net) before the rest of society realizes what's been done behind its' back. When that realization hits home, I wouldn't want to be an agent for drug prohibition.