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Arizona prison population may grow 35% by 2011

Study projects state will have 2nd fastest inmate growth rate

HELENA, Mont. – Nine of the top 10 states with the fastest projected inmate population growth rates, including Arizona, are in the West, a new study released Wednesday predicted.

Montana will see the fastest prison population growth rate in the nation over the next five years unless it changes its sentencing and prisoner release practices.

The report, published by the Public Safety Performance Project of The Pew Charitable Trusts, predicted Montana’s prison population to grow by 41 percent from 2006 to 2011.

Arizona, is ranked second behind Montana with a projected prison population increase of 35 percent by 2011, the report said.

Most other Western states, including Washington, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska and Hawaii, are projected to see an inmate population increase of at least 20 percent.

Nationally, state prison populations are projected to increase 12 percent, the report found.

Nationwide, the report said, 1 in every 178 Americans will live in prison by 2011.

The report used data from 42 states to predict prison growth rates. Most states used complex mathematical models to predict their prison growth rate. Some states, such as Montana, used a more simple method that examines past trends to predict future inmate growth. Researchers had to estimate the growth rates for the eight other states that did not provide any future predictions.

Dr. James Austin, a criminologist and one of the report’s authors, said the larger prison population estimates in the West are in part because of the region’s overall population gains outpacing national averages.

But tougher sentencing and more difficult prison-release requirements have also contributed to the increases, Austin said.

Arizona, for instance, requires its prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences and has limited its available options to deal with the rising prisoner population, he said.

Austin also noted that many mandatory prison sentences do not differentiate between violent prisoners and those who pose little risk to public safety. They also squelch the incentive for a prisoner to take part in rehabilitation programs that could lead to lower recidivism rates, he said.

“It doesn’t make any sense to have a system that is called the department of corrections if there’s no corrections going on,” Austin said.

In Montana, the state Department of Corrections has been well aware of its rapidly growing prisoner population and Gov. Brian Schweitzer has made increasing the state’s budget for corrections to include more rehabilitation programs one of his priorities this legislative session.

Adam Gelb, director of the project that commissioned the report, said he thinks Schweitzer’s efforts could, if successful, reduce the projected prison growth rate. The governor has proposed a $100 million increase in the Corrections’ budget.

“It seems like they are focused on trying to stop the revolving door,” Gelb said.

But Schweitzer’s plans were recently hampered by a budget subcommittee that cut about $13 million in proposed spending for alternative-to-prison programs, including programs to treat addiction to methamphetamine. About half of all prisoner admissions last year in Montana were for meth-related crimes, according to the Department of Corrections’ communications director, Bob Anez.

The Pew report, said Anez, underscores the need for legislators to realize the consequences of cutting the budget for programs that provide alternatives to prison.

“There’s a reason why we asked for them,” Anez said. “That’s because we see this growth in the prison population.”

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, the Public Safety Performance Project



The nation’s prison population is projected to grow by 13 percent in the next five years, nearly three times faster than population growth, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Listed are estimates for each state’s prison population in 2006, and projections for 2011:

State 2006 2011 Chng.

Ala. 28,430 30,461 7%

Alaska 2,951 3,964 34%

Ariz. 35,965 48,381 35%

Ark. 13,737 16,057 17%

Calif. 173,100 188,772 9%

Colo. 22,624 29,685 31%

Conn. 14,000 14,000 0%

Del. 3,972 3,972 0%

Fla. 89,815 106,042 18%

Ga. 53,685 59,449 11%

Hawaii 4,105 4,985 21%

Idaho 7,206 9,654 34%

Ill. 45,687 49,497 8%

Ind. 25,061 28,728 15%

Iowa 8,857 10,284 16%

Kan. 8,924 10,074 13%

Ky. 21,459 26,209 22%

La. 38,094 39,491 4%

Maine 1,978 2,383 21%

Md. 23,156 23,420 1%

Mass. 10,670 11,310 6%

Mich. 49,974 55,687 11%

Minn. 8,899 10,063 13%

Miss. 22,812 24,673 8%

Mo. 30,135 31,937 6%

Mont. 2,812 3,977 41%

Neb. 4,706 5,273 12%

Nev. 13,239 16,764 27%

N.H. 2,620 3,037 16%

N.J. 27,309 29,586 8%

N.M. 7,006 8,477 21%

N.Y. 63,000 63,000 0%

N.C. 38,257 41,676 9%

N.D. 1,384 1,580 14%

Ohio 47,519 57,223 20%

Okla. 25,089 28,345 13%

Ore. 13,411 15,110 13%

Pa. 44,096 51,596 17%

R.I. 2,853 3,052 7%

S.C. 24,070 27,815 16%

S.D. 3,442 4,241 23%

Tenn. 26,186 27,582 5%

Texas 152,671 166,327 9%

Utah 6,552 8,171 25%

Vt. 1,650 2,190 33%

Va. 37,198 41,476 12%

Wash. 18,088 23,071 28%

W.Va. 5,246 6,077 16%

Wis. 22,025 23,035 5%

Wyo. 2,147 2,737 27%

Nation 1,530,454 1,722,477 13%

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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