Blog of Rights

Safety in Numbers?

By Rachel Myers, ACLU at 3:26pm

In the last decade, New York drastically reduced its prison population and at the same time experienced a huge drop in crime. Indiana, on the other hand, drastically increased its prison population — and consequently the burden to taxpayers — while seeing a much smaller drop in crime than the national average.

A new infographic out from the ACLU today shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, increasing a state’s prison population isn’t necessarily a good way to make that state safer.

This weekend, the New York Times reported on how the trend to rethink incarceration is catching on even in conservative states. There’s more in the new ACLU report, Smart Reform Is Possible: States Reducing Incarceration Rates and Costs While Protecting Communities, which details how several states with long histories of being “tough on crime” have enacted bipartisan reforms relying on alternatives to incarceration. The report underscores that reform is not only politically and fiscally viable, but that other states must also urgently follow suit. These six states — Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio — also experienced declines in their crime rates while these new policies were in place.

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