Fewer inmates are behind bars in New York City than at any time in the past 24 years, and the number admitted to the city's jail system has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since 1987, reports the New York Times. While the plunge in the city's crime rate has been a critical factor, a number of other large cities where crime has also fallen have not seen a parallel drop in their jail population. Instead, steps taken by the city, including special courts to deal with nonviolent offenders and programs to deter former convicts from returning to jail, appear to be bearing fruit.
The population peaked in 1992, when the daily average hit 21,449 and the annual intake reached 111,045. But by the end of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2009, the average daily population had dwindled to 13,362, while the number of inmates admitted that year shrank to 99,939. This year, both figures appear likely to be even lower. Among the 50 jurisdictions in the country with the greatest number of inmates, including larger cities and urban counties, New York ranks 47th in the average number of inmates jailed on any given day relative to its total population, according to a survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative.