By Candance Samuel, a summer intern
With states facing new fiscal challenges in the wake of the 2008 economic recession, many states are now closing state prisons in an effort to reduce monetary burdens on state budgets. For the first time since 1977, the country’s incarcerated population has begun to retract. The financial constraints upon state budgets may offer new solutions to minimizing the crisis of incarceration.
According to a report released by the Sentencing Project, 13 states are planning to close prisons in an effort to reduce spending. New York is the current leader among states initiating these changes, with seven correctional facilities marked for closure in 2011.
These prison closures, deemed By New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as a necessary step toward fixing a costly and inefficient state penitentiary system , are predicted to save the state as much as $184 million over the next two years.
This new trend among states has left the criminal justice system with an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate and create new policies that will not only decrease the incarceration rate of state residents, but also lead to a renewed focus on state sponsored inmate programs that can reduce the rates of recidivism among newly released inmates.