NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Decline in State Priso

August 13, 2001

State prison populations declined by about 0.5 percent in the last six months of 2000, according to the Justice Department. But the number of federal inmates continued to climb over the same period. Overall, the combined state and federal prison population edged up 1.3 percent in 2000 -- a much lower rate of increase than in previous years.

  • The number of state prison inmates fell by more than 6,200 during the last six months of 2000 -- the first measurable decline since 1972.
  • The total number of federal and state inmates stood at nearly 1.4 million at the end of 2000.
  • Officials attributed the decrease in state prisoners to steadily declining instances of violent crime and a steady number of inmates who completed their sentences or were placed on parole.
  • State prison officials are turning to parole as a way to reduce the size of their inmate populations.

In Texas, for example, the proportion of inmates approved for parole in 2000 reached one in four -- compared to one in six in 1999, according to the Sentencing Project, a group which promotes alternatives to prison.

Source: Kevin Johnson, "State Prison Populations Drop at End of 2000," USA Today, August 13, 2001.

For text


Browse more articles on Government Issues