Gentlereaders: We previously reported that thirty-five of the fifty states are undergoing severe fiscal difficulties with the remainder restricting budgets as much as possible.
Considering this, it was inevitable that states would begin the process of cutting prison populations. In some states, corrections spend more money than most government agencies. States have realized that they cannot control their budgets without controlling correctional budgets. See http://crimeinamerica.net/2009/12/09/1-in-every-133-u-s-residents-in-prisons-or-local-jails/
Now comes data from the Department of Justice indicating …”that the population of juvenile offenders in custody continued to decline—down 3% from 2004, a trend that may be explained by the decline in juvenile arrests.” See http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/228128.pdf.
The bottom-line in the combined DOJ studies is that incarceration will decrease because states can no longer afford to hold the numbers previously committed. Regardless of ideology and politics, states are stuck with their budget realities.
Newspaper coverage of adult early release programs in some states, however, carries controversy as some released offenders commit new crimes. See http://thecrimereport.org/2010/01/14/il-crackdown-on-early-released-inmates-sends-130-back-to-prison/.
Regardless of the publicity, the numbers of incarcerated people will continue to level off or decline because states have no choice but to cut budgets.
It’s not an issue of criminology or political or public opinion; it’s fiscal pragmatism that drives the bulk of crime policy. It always has. It always will.
Crime in America.Net staff.