Slash Boxes

SoylentNews is people

posted by LaminatorX on Sunday October 19 2014, @03:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the supply-and-demand dept.

After rising rapidly for decades, the number of people behind bars peaked at 1.62 Million in 2009, has been mostly falling ever since down, and many justice experts believe the incarceration rate will continue on a downward trajectory for many years. New York, for example, saw an 8.8% decline in federal and state inmates, and California, saw a 20.6% drop. Now the WSJ reports on an awkward byproduct of the declining U.S. inmate population: empty or under-utilized prisons and jails that must be cared for but can’t be easily sold or repurposed. New York state has closed 17 prisons and juvenile-justice facilities since 2011, following the rollback of the 1970s-era Rockefeller drug laws, which mandated lengthy sentences for low-level offenders. So far, the state has found buyers for 10 of them, at prices that range from less than $250,000 to about $8 million for a facility in Staten Island, often a fraction of what they cost to build. “There’s a prisoner shortage,” says Mike Arismendez, city manager for Littlefield, Texas, home of an empty five-building complex that sleeps 383 inmates and comes with a gym, maintenence shed, armory, and parking lot . “Everybody finds it hard to believe.”

The incarceration rate is declining largely because crime has fallen significantly in the past generation. In addition, many states have relaxed harsh sentencing laws passed during the tough-on-crime 1980s and 1990s, and have backed rehabilitation programs, resulting in fewer low-level offenders being locked up. States from Michigan to New Jersey have changed parole processes, leading more prisoners to leave earlier. On a federal level, the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder has pushed to reduce sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Before 2010, the U.S. prison population increased every year for 30 years, from 307,276 in 1978 to a high of 1,615,487 in 2009. “This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration,” says Natasha Frost. "People don’t care so much about crime, and it’s less of a political focus."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 19 2014, @04:13PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 19 2014, @04:13PM (#107564)

    California was forced to reduce the population because overcrowding was infringing the rights of inmates by creating an unsafe environment. If California built more prisons, the inmate population would go up, even given the trend.

    Starting Score:    0  points
    Moderation   +3  
       Insightful=1, Interesting=2, Total=3
    Extra 'Interesting' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   3  
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by frojack on Sunday October 19 2014, @07:00PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 19 2014, @07:00PM (#107601) Journal

    California, like other states , farms out prisoners to other states and private prisons.

    Indeed, the booming business in private prisons may explain why state and local facilities are being under utilized and shuttered. Its cheaper and easier to ship them out of jurisdiction.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Snotnose on Sunday October 19 2014, @09:14PM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Sunday October 19 2014, @09:14PM (#107619)

    When I have mod points there's nothing I want to mod. When I want to mod I don't have mod points.

    Otherwise I'd mod you up +1 informative.

    Every corpse on Mt Everest was once a very determined individual. Maybe you should just calm down.