Trends in State Prison Populations
State prison populations experienced a slight decline between 2008 and 2009, while the federal population increased 3.4 percent. However, state prison populations have risen significantly - up by 13 percent - since 2000.
See the other Capitol Research policy briefs in this series: The Book of the States 2011: Regional Analysis
- State prison populations experienced a slight 0.2 percent decline between 2008 and 2009, while the federal population increased 3.4 percent. That increase drove the country’s combined state-federal prison population up 0.2 percent in 2009 from its 2008 level.
- State prisoners per 100,000 residents held fairly steady given the small absolute decline in state prison populations year-over-year. Prisoners per 100,000 residents fell from about 464 in 2008 to about 459 in 2009.
- Nationally, 2009 state prison populations are up about 13 percent from 2000. Before falling in 2009, state prison counts grew an average of 1.5 percent annually between 2000 and 2008.
- CSG’s Midwestern region tied the East for the largest regional percentage drop in state prison population between 2008 and 2009—a 1.3 percent decline.
- Michigan experienced the second largest year-over-year percentage drop in state prison population nationwide—6.7 percent. Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin also experienced declines.
- Minnesota housed the second smallest number of prisoners per 100,000 residents in the nation in 2009.
- CSG’s Eastern region tied the Midwest for the largest regional drop in state prison population between 2008 and 2009—a 1.3 percent decline.
- Rhode Island experienced the largest year-over-year percentage decline in state prison population in the nation—9.2 percent.
- Maine housed fewer prisoners per 100,000 residents than any other state in 2009. Two more Eastern states placed in the top five on this metric—Massachusetts (second) and New Hampshire (fourth).
- The Southern regional prison population increased 1.9 percent between 2008 and 2009. Year-over-year, populations were up in nine states, while six states experienced declines.
- Mississippi experienced the third largest percentage drop in state prison population in the nation between 2008 and 2009—5.6 percent.
- CSG South housed more prisoners per 100,000 residents than any other region in 2009.
- From 2008 to 2009, the Western region’s state prison population fell 0.3 percent, driven by a 1.4 percent decline in California. Without California, the regional population increased almost 1 percent.
- State prison populations were up in six states. Alaska experienced the largest year-over-year percentage increase in the nation—5.4 percent.
- Alaska housed more prisoners per 100,000 residents in 2009 than any state except Louisiana.
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