After years of steady increase, this exciting new data says that America’s incarceration rate has fallen to a 20-year low. Not only that, but the number of incarcerated people in prison has declined as well.
According to a report that was published by the Pew Research Center, the US incarceration rate in 2016 dropped to approximately 860 prison or jail inmates for every 100,000 adults, which is the lowest it has been since 1996 when it was 830 inmates for every 100,000. Additionally, the prison population clocked in at 2,162,400, which is the lowest it has been since 2004.
The incarceration rate had peaked at 1,000 incarcerations per 100,000 during a three-year period in the mid-2000s.
The research center credits these positive trends to changing legislation related to drug charges. In January, California representatives allowed state residents charged with marijuana-related crimes to have their felonies reduced or expunged completely. Soon after the initiative was announced, Seattle followed suit.
Other causes for the decline in incarceration include falling crime rates.
The research center says that violent crime rates have declined from their peak in the 90s by anywhere from 47% to 78%, depending on the data. Property crime also declined significantly by as much as 66%.
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