The Case for Releasing Elderly Prisoners: Do We Have a “Moral Imperative” to Do So?
Date:  02-18-2015

Several factors other than an increase in incarceration attributed to drop in crime
The Brennan Center for Justice has published a new report that puts to rest the old idea that in order to reduce crime states had to lock up more people. The report analyzed 40 years of data gleaned from all 50 states.

In announcing the report What Caused the Crime Decline? on February 12, the Brennan Center wrote:

Since 1990, increased incarceration had a limited impact on reducing crime nationwide, concludes a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. In What Caused the Crime Decline?, a team of economic and criminal justice researchers examine over 40 years of data, gathered from 50 states and the 50 largest cities. Among the report’s new findings:

Incarceration: Increased incarceration had some effect, likely in the range of 0 to 10 percent, on reducing crime in the 1990s. Since 2000, however, increased incarceration had a negligible effect on crime.

State Success: A number of states, including California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Texas, have successfully reduced their prison populations while crime continues to fall.

Other Factors: Increased numbers of police officers, some data-driven policing techniques, changes in income, decreased alcohol consumption, and an aging population played a role in the crime decline. In particular, the report finds CompStat is associated with a 5 to 15 percent decrease in crime. The report also includes new information on the effects of unemployment, the death penalty, and other theories on crime.

Did the explosion in incarceration cause America's crime decline? A groundbreaking new report examines the dramatic drop in crime nationwide over the past two decades — and analyzes various theories for why it occurred. In the Brennan Center, a team of economic and criminal justice researchers examined over 40 years of data, gathered from 50 states and the 50 largest cities. Nobel laureate Dr. Joseph E. Stiglitz called the report “groundbreaking” in a foreword. “This has profound implications for criminal justice policy: We lock up millions of people in an effort to fight crime. But this is not working,”

Read What Caused the Crime Decline here.