Tags: Voting Rights | prison population | alaska | trends | 1994

Prison Population Trends in Alaska Since 1994

By    |   Monday, 29 Feb 2016 08:12 PM

Since 1994, the prison population in Alaska has grown four times faster than the general population has, bringing a growth in costs and concern among corrections officials and lawmakers seeking ways to contain both the inmates and their related finances.

Part of the growth has come from jailing a higher proportion of the population. In 1994, the incarceration rate was 293 inmates per 100,000 Alaskan residents, ranking 25th among states in the U.S. In 2015, it was 690 inmates per 100,000 residents, ranking in the lower 20 among the states.

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The price tag has risen with the population. In 2003, Alaska was spending $111.48 per day per prisoner, and $184 million per year on corrections. In 2015, its budget is $158 per day per inmate and $334 million per year. That doesn’t include constructing new prisons, which cost between $250 million and $300 million.

Prison population grew 29 percent just between 2004 and 2013, and the percentage of those who were women grew by 87 percent though women were still a clear minority of prisoners. The growth in women was enough that several prison facilities had to be reconfigured to accommodate them.

Alaska has a 3 percent annual growth rate in its prison population, which used to be normal but now distinguishes it when 32 other states have recently found ways to decrease or stabilize the size of their prison populations. The legislature in recent years has launched several efforts to identify what is causing its growth rated and how to address those factors.

The largest factor affecting prison populations is recidivism, according to the Recidivism Reduction Plan released in June 2015. The report notes that 95 percent of prisoners are released from prison, and two out of three return, most of them within a year or two.

Other trends that impact the size of the prison population seem to have less to do with the crime rate itself, which is dropping in Alaska, and more to do with how the prisons are run or how sentencing is handled, the report says.

Between 27 percent and 40 percent of prison beds go to people who are pretrial or not yet sentenced post-trial. Nonviolent offenders like minor drug offenders cost the same to house as hardened criminals. So do probation violators.

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Since 1994, the prison population in Alaska has grown four times faster than the general population has, bringing a growth in costs and concern among corrections officials and lawmakers seeking ways to contain both the inmates and their related finances
prison population, alaska, trends, 1994
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2016-12-29
Monday, 29 Feb 2016 08:12 PM
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