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The Sentencing Project (Washington, DC)

“Scholars are beginning to analyze the relative contributions of changes in crime rates, criminal justice policies, economics, and demographics to the slowing growth rate of the prison system, but one area that has gone largely unexplored is the impact of such changes on racial disparities in imprisonment. As is well known, black/white disparities in the use of incarceration have been profound for quite some time. Since the 1980s a series of analyses have documented these trends at the national level as well as examining variation in disparity among the states. As prison populations fluctuate, though, the relative rate of incarceration among racial groups may or may not reflect prevailing patterns. Further, as the prospect of a declining prison population has now become a distinct possibility for the next decade, it will become increasingly important to monitor whether reduced incarceration is experienced in similar ways across racial/ethnic groups” (p. 1). This report is an initial look at whether this trend of decreasing prison populations is reflected in the numbers of minority women being incarcerated. Sections of this report cover: slowing growth in incarceration; race and gender disparity in incarceration; changing racial composition of women’s incarceration—analyzing changes, changes in offending, prison population by offense, and changing socioeconomics; conclusion; and recommendations to address racial disparities.

The Changing Racial Dynamics Cover

This is a great set of charts showing various correctional trends. Charts show: U.S. state and federal prisons population, 1925-2012; international rates of incarceration, 2011; federal and state prison population by offense, 2011; state expenditures on corrections, 1985-2010; population under control of the U.S. corrections system, 1980 and 2010; number of people in prisons and jails for drug offenses, 1980 and 2011; number of people in federal prisons for drug offenses, 1980-2010; number of women in state and federal prisons, 1980-2012; highest and lowest state incarceration rates (per 100,000) by women, overall, and men, 2012; rate of incarceration by gender, race and ethnicity, 2011; people in state and federal prisons by race and ethnicity, 2011; lifetime likelihood of imprisonment by all men, white men, black men, Latino men, all women, white women, black women, and Latina women; number of people serving life without parole sentences, 1992-2012; number of people serving life sentences, 1984-2012; and the number of juveniles held in adult prisons and jails, 1985-2010.

Trends in U.S. Corrections Cover

"Our comparative analysis of U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2014 reveals broad variation in nationwide incarceration trends. While 39 states have experienced a decline since reaching their peak prison populations within the past 15 years, in most states this decline has been relatively modest. In addition, 11 states have had continuing rises in imprisonment. These developments suggest that while the recent national decline in the prison population is encouraging, any significant decarceration will require more sustained attention. In this regard, 12 states have produced double-digit declines for some period since 1999, led by New Jersey (31%), New York (28%), Rhode Island (25%), and California (22%). Notably, these states have achieved substantial reductions with no adverse effect on public safety. Among states with rising prison populations, four have experienced double-digit increases, led by Nebraska and Arkansas, whose respective prisons populations grew by 22% and 18% since 2009. Despite sharing in the national crime drop, these states have resisted the trend toward decarceration" (website).

U.S. Prison Population Trends 1999-2014 Cover

"This fact sheet reveals broad variation in nationwide incarceration trends up through 2013. While the number of people in prison in the United States has stabilized in recent years, incarceration trends among the states have varied significantly. Two-thirds of states (34) have experienced at least a modest decline since 1999, while one-third (16) have had continued rises in their prison populations. Nine states have produced double-digit declines during this period, led by New Jersey (29% since 1999), New York (27% since 1999), and California (22% since 2006, though partly offset by increasing jail use)" (p. 1). Since 2009 the total state prison population has decreased 2.4%, with the federal prison population decreasing 1%.

U.S. Prison Population Trends: Broad Variation Among States in Recent Years Cover


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