Pew Sees Link in Declines in Crime, Imprisonment


Thirty-two states have reduced both their imprisonment and crime rates over the past five years, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts analysis of crime data released by the FBI on Monday. The national imprisonment rate is down 6 percent from its peak in 2008 and the crime rate has fallen 16 percent since then. “The numbers are showing that we can have less crime and less incarceration,” said Pew’s Adam Gelb, “and that fact is really starting to sink in with voters and elected officials from across the political spectrum.”

Pew's analysis calculated five-year changes in each state's imprisonment and crime rate, as measured by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI, respectively. According to the analysis, states that reduced their imprisonment rates between 2008 and 2013 saw a slightly greater average decline in their crime rates (13 percent) than states that increased their imprisonment rates during the same span (11 percent average decline in crime). In the vast majority of states that cut their crime rates, imprisonment rates varied considerably, underscoring the complex relationship between incarceration and crime.

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