Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | prison | population | trends | Rhode Island

Prison Population Trends in Rhode Island Since 1994

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 11:55 AM

Rhode Island has both a low crime rate and a low incarceration rate. Like many other states, it saw a jump in the number of people imprisoned in the 1980s and 1990s, but it’s also found ways to manage the ever-growing prison population, even taking measures to change the system and reduce the number of people in lockup. Examining the prison population in Rhode Island reveals everything from inmate demographics to inmate health and medical-related expenses.

GoLocalProv noted that the prison population
began declining in 2008, following an increase of 250 percent starting in 1980. This increase gained momentum in the early to mid-1990s with the construction of new prisons.

However, by the early 2000s the state government realized something needed to be done to reduce the prison population. This led to a series of reforms that took effect in 2008. The new trend focused on providing inmates with alternatives to prison and reducing sentences. For example, prisoners with longer sentences previously had greater opportunity to earn time off of their sentences, while inmates with shorter sentences didn’t.

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The Sentencing Project noted that Rhode Island’s prison population peaked in 2008, and that between then and 2013, it declined by 19.2 percent. Changes in sentencing contributed to fewer people incarcerated. For example, according to a report from the National Council of State Legislatures, Rhode Island eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of the manufacture or sale of drugs.

The Pew Charitable Trust reported that the average daily prison population went down by 13 percent between 2007 and 2011, while the number of inmates aged 55 or older declined by 31 percent during the same period.

Prison health care spending in Rhode Island also has changed in recent years, according to a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust. Between 2007 and 2011, total prison healthcare spending went down by 12 percent, while per-inmate healthcare spending declined by 1 percent.

Rhode Island recently addressed recidivism, or the likelihood that inmates will reoffend and return to prison after their release. Recent evaluations have seen this trend declining slightly. The state’s Department of Corrections reported that in 2007 it examined the recidivism rates for inmates released in 2004. Within three years, 54 percent had returned to prison. In 2010, however, the DOC studied inmates released in 2007, and discovered that 48 percent, had returned to prison within three years.

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Rhode Island has both a low crime rate and a low incarceration rate. Like many other states, it saw a jump in the number of people imprisoned in the 1980s and 1990s, but it's also found ways to manage the ever-growing prison population.
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Tuesday, 01 Mar 2016 11:55 AM
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