Incarceration rates and crime rates drop around the country

Photo by Mitch Lensink on Unsplash

It was during the 1970s and the 1980s that the federal government decided to get tough on crime. The reasoning at that time was that if more people were put into prison, there would be fewer criminals on the streets and crime rates would plummet. Unfortunately, that did not happen. As prosecutors around the nation put more people in prison, crime rates remained largely unchanged. Now though, that is a trend that is shifting, and that is great news for the entire country. 

“This is great, great news,” says Virginia criminal defense attorney Patrick Woolley of Patrick Woolley Attorney at Law. “For too long the country has been putting people away for low-level, non-violent crimes. In many crimes, those accused did not commit any crimes at all. This new report is very encouraging. We can only hope that it continues.” 

That new report comes from the Brennan Center for Justice. This institute studied crime and imprisonment rates throughout the country over a ten-year period. The Brennan Center also concluded in their report that 34 of the states throughout the nation have seen a reduction in both. This largely contradicts the belief that more incarceration means lower crime rates. 

Dissecting the numbers across the country, researchers broke down the data even further. They found that the Northeast had the highest decrease in both in crime rates and incarceration rates, with Massachusetts leading the way at 40 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Part of the reason for this, the report concludes, is the fact that it has reduced its incarcerations for non-violent drug crime by 45 percent since 2008. The fact that they have legalized recreational marijuana undoubtedly played no small part in that. 

However, there is still some work to do. The Midwest, for example, saw just a one percent decrease in imprisonment rates. While this is disheartening, it is not as troubling as what some other states showed. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas all saw increased imprisonment rates throughout the same period. 

The news that crime and imprisonment rates are dropping around the country is certainly great news. Unfortunately, until every state can make the necessary changes, the United States may still remain the incarceration capital of the Western world.