Decarceration Strategies: How 5 States Achieved Substantial Prison Population Reductions

The Sentencing Project LogoThis report from The Sentencing Project describes the changes in policy and practice that have enabled five states (Connecticut, Michigan, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and South Carolina) to reduce their prison populations between 14 to 25 percent over the past decade and shows how these states have achieved a far more significant decarceration rate than the national average. The states profiled were selected for their geographic and political diversity, and can serve as decarceration roadmaps for other states. Each has implemented a range of reforms in policy and decision-making protocols for practitioners. For example, Connecticut focused on reducing young people’s contact with the justice system through reducing school suspensions, changing criteria for detention, and raising the age of adult jurisdiction from 16 to 18; Rhode Island eliminated mandatory sentences for drug crimes; and Mississippi adopted a risk assessment instrument that contributed to a doubling of the parole approval rate.