The Sentencing Project Finds Reducing Prisoners Reduces Crime

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The Sentencing Project, an organization dedicated to tracking and exposing inequalities in the criminal justice system, has released a new report that takes a surprising stance on criminal activity and prison.

The report, titled Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime: A Tale of Three States,” analyses the broad impact of the efforts of three states to intentionally reduces their prison population. Those three states, New York, New Jersey, and California, all reduced their inmate populations substantially and saw a significant drop in crime rates overall as well. 

New York and New Jersey reduced their inmate populations by 26% between 1999 and 2012, and California’s inmate population decreased by 23% between 2006 and 2012. The national prison population increased by 10% from 1999 to 2012, making these three states a departure from the ordinary.

The report specifically found that violent crime dropped at a faster rate in these three states than it did overall across the country. The report also talks about how arrests have become the go-to intervention of choice for people struggling with substance abuse problems or mental health issues.

The takeaway from this report is that essentially, the Unites States population of prison inmates could be reduced by 25%, possibly more, and that reduction would not increase crime rates or endanger the public.

This report helps to underscore the importance of criminal justice reform in the process of ending prohibition. Truthfully, the individuals who represent that non-violent, non-dangerous group of inmates are people who should not have been incarcerated in the first place in many cases.

While there is no definitive explanation for the drop in crime rates correlating with a decrease in prison populations, it’s possible that the shift in policy has decreased the level of animosity some people feel toward the justice system and society in general.

You can read the full report here:  You can also like their page on Facebook here for updates on their reports and activism.


Photo Credit: The Sentencing Project