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On the Chopping Block 2013 – State Prison Closures

September 19, 2014 Comments off

On the Chopping Block 2013 – State Prison Closures (PDF)
Source: The Sentencing Project

During 2013, at least six states closed 20 correctional facilities or contemplated doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by 11,370 beds and resulting in estimated five-year cost savings of over $229 million. Since 2011, at least 17 states have reduced prison capacity totaling over 35,000 beds. But in contrast to this trend, some states announced in 2013 that they may open new correctional facilities or reopen facilities that had previously been shuttered.

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New Publication: Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America

September 19, 2013 Comments off

New Publication: Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America
Source: The Sentencing Project

While serious crime rates in the U.S. have been declining for the last 20 years, the number of prisoners serving life sentences has more than quadrupled since 1984. As documented in our new report, over 159,000 people were serving life sentences in 2012, with nearly 50,000 serving life without parole.

Key findings from the report include:One of every nine individuals in prison is serving a life sentence.The population of prisoners serving life without parole (LWOP) has risen more sharply than those with the possibility of parole: there has been a 22.2% increase in LWOP since just 2008.Approximately 10,000 lifers have been convicted of nonviolent offenses. Nearly half of lifers are African American and 1 in 6 are Latino. More than 10,000 life-sentenced inmates have been convicted of crimes that occurred before they turned 18 and nearly 1 in 4 of them were sentenced to LWOP.More than 5,300 (3.4%) of the life-sentenced inmates are female.

Key findings from the report include:

  • One of every nine individuals in prison is serving a life sentence.
  • The population of prisoners serving life without parole (LWOP) has risen more sharply than those with the possibility of parole: there has been a 22.2% increase in LWOP since just 2008.
  • Approximately 10,000 lifers have been convicted of nonviolent offenses.
  • Nearly half of lifers are African American and 1 in 6 are Latino.
  • More than 10,000 life-sentenced inmates have been convicted of crimes that occurred before they turned 18 and nearly 1 in 4 of them were sentenced to LWOP.
  • More than 5,300 (3.4%) of the life-sentenced inmates are female.

The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration

February 28, 2013 Comments off

The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration

Source: Sentencing Project

From 2000 to 2009 there was a dramatic shift in the racial composition of the women’s prison population. In 2000, African American women were incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white women. By 2009, that disparity had dropped by half, to less than three times the white rate.

The factors contributing to these changes include: sharply reduced incarceration of African American women for drug offenses in some states; declining rates of arrest of black women for violent, property, and drug offenses; and, cumulative social disadvantages that are increasingly affecting less educated white women.

Recommendations for addressing these issues include conducting state-based analyses of racial disparity, enacting proactive racial impact statement legislation, and engaging practitioners in projects to reduce disparities in local jurisdictions.

New Publication: Trends in U.S. Corrections

July 10, 2012 Comments off

New Publication: Trends in U.S. Corrections
Source: Sentencing Project

Trends in U.S. Corrections is a visual tool that provides a compilation of key developments in the criminal justice system over the past several decades.

Among the issues featured in this collection are:

  • Rate of incarceration from 1925 to 2010
  • International comparisons of incarceration rates
  • Changes in the drug offender composition of prison populations over time
  • Racial/ethnic disparities by gender in incarceration
  • Increases in the number of people serving life sentences and life without parole since the 1980s
  • Trends in the number of juveniles held in adult prisons and jails since 1985
  • Increases in state corrections expenditures from 1985 to 2010
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