Missouri’s prison population has reached an all-time high, and state officials are trying to figure out why, the Associated Press reports. After declining or holding steady for several years, the inmate population has been rising during the past year and a half. There were 30,708 inmates on Monday, topping the previous high mark of 30,654 set in October 2005.
Corrections director George Lombardi said the increase is a result of new people being sentenced to prison, not because of probation revocations for prior offenders. It’s unclear whether more people are committing crimes in Missouri, whether more people simply are being convicted or whether courts are clearing out a backlog of cases, he said. In 2003, Missouri lowered the maximum prison sentence for some felonies, including drug possession, and gave judges greater discretion to order treatment programs or short-term shock sentences.