Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York reduced prison populations between 5 and 20 percent since 1999 without any increases in crime, says a new report from Justice Strategies and The Sentencing Project. That happened during a period when the national prison population increased by 12 percent. The reductions were achieved through a mix of legislative reforms and changes in practice by corrections and parole agencies.
The Sentencing Project says that last year was a recent high mark for such reforms. A report describes reforms in at least 19 states that the group says hold the potential of further prison population reductions. Key among changes identified were scaled-back mandatory sentencing laws for some drug offenses in Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island; seven states’ increasing the proportion of “good time” credits to be earned in prison to expedite parole eligibility; and Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and New Jersey establishing committees to examine sentencing policies, prison overcrowding and reentry services.