The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced a few weeks ago that the US prison population had fallen from the previous year and that for the second year in a row for the first time since 1972.
“This is fantastic news,” said Marcus Owen, a returning citizen who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. “Correctional population numbersare down, but the numbers are still high.”
The total correctional population includes all persons incarcerated, either in prison, jail, or supervised in the community (probation or parole). The basic count for correctional population is updated annually in the Probation and Parole in the United States series.
The BJS submitted its report, entitled Prisoners in 2010, which says the overall US prison population at the end of 2010 was 1,605,127, a decrease of 9,228 inmates or 0.6 percent from year end 2009. Additionally, the number of state prisoners declined by nearly a full percent [specifically, 0.8 percent (10,881 inmates)].
Owen added, “This is just the kind of news an organization like SAMI-HU would love to hear.”
Sadly, there was an increase of federal employees; an increase of 0.8 percent, or 1,653 new inmates. In the federal system, drug offenders made up 51 percent (between 350,000 and 400,000 people) of all inmates. Weapons and immigration violations make up 35 percent of the overall population, and rough 10 percent are listed as violent offenders (violent offenders make up 53 percent of all state prisoners in the nation).
Half of the states reported decreased prison populations last year, such as California (down 6,213 inmates). California has been ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to get their state prison population numbers down due to mass overcrowding. Additional decreases were reported in Georgia (down 4,207 inmates) and Rhode Island (down 8.6 percent).
“Cham”, a Maryland resident, commented, “Take any report with DOJ written at the top of it with a grain of salt.”
The BJS started keeping jurisdictional data in 1977, the number of people released from prison exceeded the number of people sentenced to prison. Some 708,677 people were released from prison, while only 703,798 entered prison.
The number of people under the supervision of adult correctional authorities had also declined, as noted by the BJS’s Correctional Population in the US 2010,.
Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI) was founded in February 2011 at Howard University. The mission of the organization is to raise awareness about the prison industrial complex, political prisoners, and recidivism.