A report issued by the Sentencing Project reveals that the move to close prisons to help reduce states’ budgets has paid off. According to On the Chopping Block: State Prison Closings 2012:
In 2012, at least six states have closed 20 prison institutions or are contemplating doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by over 14,100 beds and resulting in an estimated $337 million in savings.
Florida led the nation in prison closings with its closure of 10 correctional facilities; the state’s estimated cost savings for prison closings totals over $65 million.
This year’s prison closures build on closures observed in 2011 when at least 13 states reported prison closures and reduced prison capacity by an estimated 15,500 beds.
Reasons given for the decline in prison population include policy changes. New York was cited for revising harsh the Rockefeller Drug Law, while Connecticut repealed the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Limiting re-incarceration for parole violators has also contributed to saving money and reducing the inmate population.