State’s prison population down for third straight year

March 17, 2010

California’s inmate population dropped in 2009 for the third straight year, according to a new study by the Pew Center on the States. [Los Angeles Times]

There was an overall drop of 4,257 inmates last year–relatively small according to experts. However, the figure is considered significant because this is the first year-over-year drop since 1972.

A number of factors are being offered to explain the decrease, including a recent federal court order to cut the prison population by 40,000. The continuing budget deficit is also forcing lawmakers to trim the Corrections budget. One impact has been to take up to six weeks off prison terms for inmates who complete rehabilitation programs.

California, which currently has about 170,000 inmates, saw a surge in the inmate population due to the passage of the “Three Strikes” law and other tough-on-crime measures.