Prison Admission Rates are Falling

In an earlier post, I pointed out that after increasing for more than thirty years, prison populations have been begun to decline. Keith Humphreys further notes that the trend is even more dramatic when we look at the flow of people into prisons (rather than the stock).


In absolute numbers, the number of admissions in 2012 (609,800) was the lowest since 1999.

Drug-related imprisonments are especially down. In 1991, for example, 23% of the prisoner’s sentenced for more than one year were sentenced for drug related reasons (including 8.2% for drug possession). In 2011 only 16.6% of imprisonments for more than one year were for drug-related reasons (including 4.1% for drug possession.) This trend is likely to continue with further drug legalization.


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