US saw lowest number of prisoners in decades

Posted at 2:12 PM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 14:12:20-05

In 2015, the U.S. saw some of the lowest imprisonment numbers in decades.

According to a new report from the Department of Justice, only about 1 in 37 U.S. adults was under some kind of correctional supervision at the end of 2015, the lowest imprisonment rate since 1994.

Correctional supervision can include incarceration, probation or parole.

The number of inmates in U.S. prisons decreased pretty drastically, too.

There were 1.53 million state and federal prisoners in 2015 — that's a 2 percent drop from 2014 and the largest decline in the prison population since 1978.

There are a few big reasons for the smaller numbers. Starting in 2015, the Federal Bureau of Prisons began releasing thousands of nonviolent drug offenders.

And several states have enacted legislation and policies to help reduce prison populations.

For example, in California, one 2014 ballot initiative gave certain nonviolent offenders the chance to reduce their felony convictions to misdemeanors.

But, compared to other countries, we still have a long way to go. According to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, the U.S. has the second highest prison population rate in the world, behind the country of Seychelles in East Africa.