Three states in Midwest show significant six-year decline in prison rates

Stateline Midwest ~ April 2013

Michigan, Wisconsin and North Dakota were among the nearly 30 U.S. states where imprisonment rates fell between 2006 and 2011, a March analysis of federal data done by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows.

Nationally, the imprisonment rate fell 3 percent; the U.S. crime rate decreased 13 percent over that same time period.

The analysis, done by Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project, credits several state reforms that have aimed to improve public safety and cut costs for taxpayers: shortening prison terms for lower-level offenders and diverting some individuals from prison altogether; scaling back so-called “three-strikes laws,” and investing more in evidence-based probation and parole programs that have helped keep individuals from reoffending.

Pew has been a key partner with The Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, which has worked with policymakers in states such as Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin to reform corrections policies and systems.
Michigan has undergone one of the most dramatic drops in prison rates — 15 percent between 2006 and 2011.
Under the Michigan Prisoner Reentry initiative, the state has targeted more resources for individuals at the greatest risk of reoffending, in part by improving its process for assessing the risks and needs of released prisoners. These efforts appear to be working: A report released last year by the CSG Justice Center noted that Michigan’s recidivism rate fell 18 percent between 2005 and 2007. 
Along with the reduction in parole revocations, other factors contributing to the drop in Michigan’s prison population include more early releases of prisoners and fewer reported crimes and arrests.
The Pew report also found imprisonment rates between 2006 and 2011 rose in six Midwestern states: Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Nebraska and Kansas.