Non-Violent State Inmates Declining for 20 Years

From Keith Humphreys:

Prison is the subject of many myths in the public policy world. For example, many people believe that the size of the prison population has continued to rise under President Obama, when in fact it has fallen. Other observers maintain that prison populations drop during economic downturns, when in fact the reverse has generally been true. An even more widely embraced myth is that states have been increasingly incarcerating non-violent offenders. But as this chart from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows, the proportion of the state prison population that is serving time for a non-violent crime has been declining since the early 1990s.

I want to read more about this. I know that prison populations have been declining in recent years, but my impression was that they’ve grown considerably over 20 years and that violent crime is down. Those impressions may have been wrong, but if they are not, I want to see how you have shrinking violent crime, growing prison populations and declining non-violent prison populations.

I wonder if rolling in federal inmates would change the percentages much.

Corrections-in-the-United-States_0442512_21

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Non-Violent State Inmates Declining for 20 Years

  1. Almost everyone in federal prison is there for a non violent drug offense. Serving lengthy mandatory sentences.

  2. Super interesting statistics! I’d also be pretty curious to see just how the Federal stats would work in with this data. 47% is a pretty high number, I think anyway, and like you, I’d be really interested to see the proportions of minor vs. major convictions.