Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | incarceration | rates | Montana

Rates of Incarceration in Montana

By    |   Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 08:11 AM

Rates of incarceration in Montana fall below the national average, with 357 people behind bars for every 100,000 of the state's residents, according to statistics from the National Institute of Corrections.

The national average incarceration rate for all states is 492 out of 100,000 residents. Montana’s prison population is approximately 3,642 people housed in six correctional facilities run by the state. The Montana Department of Corrections budget is $177.4 million annually.

Data from a report by Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that the prison population in Montana grew 32 percent between 1998 and 2013, largely because of increased admissions and longer sentences for those who have been admitted. The total corrections population, including both those in prison and those who are on parole, has grown by 48 percent during that time frame. Many of the people who are incarcerated in Montana are considered at low risk for reoffending, and many return to prison after committing technical parole violations.

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Despite its relatively low incarceration rate, Montana exhibits stark racial disparities in sentencing. African Americans are imprisoned in the state at a rate of 3,601 per 100,000, compared to 1,914 among American Indians and Alaska natives, 994 among Hispanics, and 423 for Caucasians. According to data from Prison Policy Initiative, whites are underrepresented in the state’s prison system, while all other races are overrepresented.

In late 2014, the Independent Record reported that the state was in danger of running out of room in its prisons. At the time, Montana had more than 400 people on the waiting list for spots at Department of Corrections facilities. As a result of this overcrowding, which many attribute to increased crime rates in the state, legislators are exploring alternative measures for dealing with those who break the law. These measures have the potential not only to solve the prison overcrowding issue, but to cut the corrections budget as well.

As a result of the Pew report, the Montana Department of Corrections has already taken steps toward reforming the prison system. They have revised the case management system to ensure that sentencing makes sense and is administered in a structured, consistent way. They also plan to introduce new community based re-entry programs as well as increase access to existing programs in order to cut the state’s recidivism rate. With these measures in place, Montana is positioning itself to maintain public safety while reducing the taxpayer burden of corrections funding.

VOTE NOW: Is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Doing a Good Job?

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Rates of incarceration in Montana fall below the national average, with 357 people behind bars for every 100,000 of the state's residents, according to statistics from the National Institute of Corrections.
incarceration, rates, Montana
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2015-11-02
Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 08:11 AM
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