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Comparative Analysis of U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2014

Posted by Admin On February - 18 - 2016
From: Marc Mauer
The Sentencing Project
I’m writing to share two new analyses pertaining to reforms in the adult and juvenile justice systems.
Our comparative analysis of U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2014 reveals broad variation in nationwide incarceration trends.  While 39 states have experienced a decline since reaching their peak prison populations within the past 15 years, in most states this decline has been relatively modest. In addition, 11 states have had continuing rises in imprisonment. These developments suggest that while the recent national decline in the prison population is encouraging, any significant decarceration will require more sustained attention.
In this regard, 12 states have produced double-digit declines for some period since 1999, led by New Jersey (31%), New York (28%), Rhode Island (25%), and California (22%). Notably, these states have achieved substantial reductions with no adverse effect on public safety. Among states with rising prison populations, four have experienced double-digit increases, led by Nebraska and Arkansas, whose respective prisons populations grew by 22% and 18% since 2009. Despite sharing in the national crime drop, these states have resisted the trend toward decarceration.
An overview of developments regarding Juvenile Life without Parole: An Overview, by Josh Rovner, encompasses the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, which will sharply curtail the number of people serving life without parole sentences for offenses committed as juveniles. Approximately 2,500 people are currently serving life without parole for offenses committed as juveniles; 16 states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of the sentence for juvenile offenders. The policy brief traces a decade’s worth of Supreme Court rulings, legislative responses to those rulings, and current research about teenage development and the juveniles likely impacted by the decision.
Marc Mauer
New @SentencingProj analysis finds four states have reduced their prison populations by over 20%: sent.pr/1onM1F3
Many states have banned life without parole for youth. Is a nationwide ban next? More in new @SentencingProj report: sent.pr/1FMIfqe
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