[JURIST] The number of inmates in US state prisons has dropped for the first time in 40 years, according to a report [text] released Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States [advocacy website]. Led by California and Michigan, the state prison population decreased by 0.4 percent during 2009. Because of a slight increase in the federal system, the total number of prisoners in US prisons increased slightly between in 2009. According to the report, the decline is due to fewer prisoners entering the prison system, while the number of people leaving state prison in 2008 was an all-time high. The report said that even before facing financial difficulties, many states had already started reducing total admissions in 2007, and others had cut back on parole revocations. Director of the Pew Center's Public Safety Performance Project [advocacy website] Adam Gelb said [press release] that another important reason for the decline "is that states began to realize there are research-based ways they can cut their prison populations while continuing to protect public safety."
Last year, the Pew center reported [JURIST report] that one in 31 US adults is in prison, or on parole. The report found that men are five times as likely as women to be in prison and that black adults are four times as more likely as white adults. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) [official website], 7.3 million people were under some form of correctional supervision [BJS statistics] in 2008. According to the International Center for Prison Studies [official website], the US has the most prisoners per capita [text, PDF] in the world.