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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Downscaling Prisons: Lessons from Four States (The Sentencing Project; Justice Strategies)

  • Organization: The Sentencing Project
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Thursday, March 04, 2010
  • Submitted: Thursday, March 04, 2010
  • Attachment(s): LINK

This report released by Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project, finds that four states - Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York - have reduced their prison populations by 5-20% since 1999 without any increases in crime. This came about at a time when the national prison population increased by 12%; and in six states it increased by more than 40%. The reductions were achieved through a mix of legislative reforms and changes in practice by corrections and parole agencies. The reforms included:

• Kansas - Changed sentencing guidelines to divert lower-level drug cases to treatment rather than incarceration; Expanded supportive services to people on parole supervision.
• Michigan - Eliminated most mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses; enacted statewide initiative to reduce parole revocations and enhance employment, housing, and treatment services for people leaving prison.
• New Jersey - Increased parole releases by adopting risk assessment instruments and utilizing day reporting centers and electronic monitoring.
• New York - Scaled back harsh drug penalties, established Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison programs, and applied "merit time" credits to speed up parole consideration.

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