Subtitle We may be making progress as to reducing recidivism in the United States. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced […]
Subtitles The use of discretionary parole increased dramatically. The parole population from 2005 to 2015 included the same percentage of active cases (83 percent) when they were supposed to decline. Caseloads grew more challenging with more violent offenders. The increased use of parole rather than mandatory release means that offenders will be on parole and […]
Observations The probation population from 2005 to 2015 included more active cases when they were supposed to decline due to diversions. Treatment doesn’t exist beyond 1 percent. Caseloads grew more challenging with more felonies and more violent offenders. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former […]
Does shrinking the size of prison populations save taxpayers money? Not always, says a study released today by the Vera Institute of Justice. The study found that 25 states increased their spending on prisons even though the nation’s overall prison population has declined.
Does shrinking the size of prison populations save taxpayers money? Not always, says a study released today by the Vera Institute of Justice.
In a survey of state spending on incarceration, Vera researchers found that in 10 states where prison numbers declined, overall prison budgets actually increased by $1.1 billion between 2010 and 2015. Overall, 25 states—more than half of the 45 surveyed—reported prison spending increases during that period, even though the number of individuals incarcerated nationwide has been dropping since 2009.
The Vera researchers suggested the increase was due to higher costs related to personnel and health care. Salaries and pensions alone accounted for one-fifth of the total $8 billion in prison spending in 2015, and health care for an aging prison population (the number of incarcerated individuals 55 and older more than doubled between 2010 and 2013) is swallowing ever-larger amounts of state prison budgets.
States such as California, Colorado and Pennsylvania—which have changed sentencing codes and established other policies aimed at reducing prison populations and providing alternatives to prison—registered some of the highest spending increases.
Nevertheless, the authors of the Vera study said that lowering prison populations was essential to reforming a system that, with some 1.4 million people behind bars at its peak in 2009, leads the world in incarceration rates. (The number of prisoners has declined by about five per cent since then.)
They noted that in 13 states where prison populations dropped since 2010—including New York, Michigan, North Carolina and New Jersey— prisons costs declined by a whopping $1.6 billion, without a corresponding danger to public safety. In fact, crime rates reduced by double-digit figures in some of those states.
“While simultaneously downsizing prison populations and spending is easier said than done, these 13 states prove that it is indeed possible,” wrote Christian Henrichson, Research Director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, in his introduction to the report.
“For those who are up to the challenge, this report makes it plain that a large sum of money is on the table.”
The report poses a sharp counterweight to the philosophy espoused by the Trump administration that reforming sentencing guidelines and other efforts to reduce prison populations over the past several years have generated new crime dangers to the nation.
But it also makes clear that the dollars-and-cents argument for cutting prison populations taken by some reformers has limitations. The survey found, for example, that in seven states where prison populations increased between 2010 and 2015, costs still declined by $254 million—largely because of reductions in staffing and budgetary constraints on improving facilities.
The Vera study was prepared by Chris Mai and Ram Subramanian.
A full version is available here.
Subtitle 641,000 Offenders Released From Prison in 2015 Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Article There were […]
Observations The District of Columbia and Louisiana have the highest rates of incarceration. Main has the lowest rate of incarceration. Author Leonard A. Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime […]
Observations The mast majority of offenders released from prison return to the criminal justice system based on arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. The crime upon conviction just doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference. Age upon release plus criminal history and possibly sex seem to be the main drivers of recidivism. Can prison rehabilitation or […]
Observations There are major differences in the numbers of people on parole and probation returned to prison when examining state data. If the vast majority of those released from prison are rearrested, and fifty-five percent return to prison, and if most are violent or multi-repeat felony offenders, how can states be returning different numbers of […]
Observations Federal offenders (in eight years) had less than half the returns to prison than states (after five years). Over an eight-year follow-up period, almost one-half of federal offenders (49.3%) were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions compared to 76.6% of all state prisoners after five years. Over […]
Observations A new report from the United States Sentencing Commission examines a group of 10,888 federal drug trafficking offenders released from US prisons and examines the percent of rearrests after eight years. The rearrest rate for the federal drug trafficking prisoners studied after release (eight years at 50 percent) is much lower than all state […]