US prison population down for 3rd straight year

US prison population down for 3rd straight year

Credit: Getty Images

IONE, CA - AUGUST 28: Inmates at the Mule Creek State Prison interact in a gymnasium that was modified to house prisoners August 28, 2007 in Ione, California. A panel of three federal judges is looking to put a cap on the California State Prison population after class action lawsuits were filed on behalf of inmates who complained of being forced to live in classrooms, gymnasiums and other non-traditional prison housing. California prisons house nearly 173,000 inmates with over 17,000 of them in non-traditional housing. The Mule Creek State Prison has had to modify several facilities to make room for an increasing number of inmates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press

khou.com

Posted on July 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM

WASHINGTON -- The government says the U.S. prison population dropped for the third straight year in 2012.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics says there were more than 1.5 million prison inmates last year. That's a drop of 1.7 percent from 2011.

The prison population hit a high of more than 1.6 million inmates in 2009.

Despite the overall decline, the federal prison population actually rose by nearly 1,500 inmates last year. The state population dropped by nearly 30,000 inmates.

California is responsible for most of the decrease in the number of state inmates. That's because of a 2011 law sending non-serious, non-violent or non-sex offenders to county jails.

Nine states saw their prison populations drop by more than 1,000 -- California, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, New York, Florida, Virginia and Maryland.

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