U.S. Corrections Population Still Dropping Slowly

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Photo by J. Chan via Flickr

The number of adults in prisons and jails or on probation or parole dropped for the ninth consecutive year in 2016, although the decline that year was less than one percent, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported on Thursday.

The total at year’s end 2016 was 6,613,500 people, about 62,700 fewer than a year earlier, a .9 percent drop.

The number of prison inmates fell in 2016 by 21,200, but the total in jails remained about the same.

Over a decade starting in 2007, the proportion of the population under the supervision of correctional authorities decreased by 18 percent, from 3,210 to 2,640 per 100,000 residents.

About 1 in 38 adults in the nation were under some form of correctional supervision at the end of 2016.

The number of people on probation was down 52,500 in 2016, but the parole total went up .5 percent.

Advocates of reducing the nation’s mass incarceration will welcome the continued drop in the correctional population, but many critics believe that the decline has been too slow.

The actual number of prison inmates fell by only 70,000 in the decade from 2007 through 2016, even as the crime rate decreased and many states amended their laws to provide for shorter prison terms for some offenses.

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