At yearend 2009, state and federal correctional authorities had jurisdiction over 1,613,656 prisoners, an increase of 0.2% (3,897 prisoners) from yearend 2008 ... This was the smallest annual increase in the current decade and continued the trend of slower growth observed in the prison population since 2006.Why am I not surprised? States, who have to stay in the black, are starting to make hard choices between paying for prisoners or doing other worthwhile things with taxpayer dollars (like having a balanced budget). The Feds don't have the balanced budget concerns that the states do (that national deficit isn't getting any smaller) and apparently think that an additional 6,838 prisoners are worth the extra debt. Keeping those extra federal prisoners locked up will cost more than $177 million -- and that's just for year one of their sentences!
The number of prisoners under state jurisdiction declined by 2,941 prisoners (0.2%), the only decrease in the state prison population between 2000 and 2009; the federal prison population increased by 6,838 prisoners (3.4%) and accounted for all of the increase in the U.S. prison population.
While 24 states cut their prison populations in 2009, 26 others increased the number of people in their prisons. For those who follow criminal justice, the winning and losing states shouldn't be that surprising:
Twenty-four states reported decreases in their prison population during 2009, with a combined total decrease of 15,223 state prisoners... About three-fourths (71.7%) of this decrease resulted from declines reported in six states reporting decreases of more than 1,000 prisoners: Michigan (down 3,260), California (down 2,395), New York (down 1,660), Mississippi (down 1,272), Texas (down 1,257), and Maryland (down 1,069).
Offsetting the total decrease of 15,223 state prisoners was a total increase of 12,282 prisoners in the remaining 26 states. Five of these states reported increases of more than 1,000 prisoners and accounted for more than half (60.7%) of the total increase: Pennsylvania (up 2,214), Florida (up 1,527), Louisiana (up 1,399), Alabama (up 1,282), and Arizona (up 1,038).New York reformed its Rockefeller drug mandatory minimums last year; Texas has been getting smart on crime and diverting drug offenders left and right. Those moves appear to be paying off -- literally.
What'll it take to get the federal government to follow suit?