Miss. ranks 2nd in per capita adults imprisoned

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

One in 69 adult Mississippians is behind bars, putting the state at No. 2 behind Louisiana for its incarceration rate.

A new Pew Center for the States study of 2007 U.S. Census data found that Mississippi’s adult incarceration rate has increased 256 percent since 1982. One in 38 adults is either behind bars, on probation or has been paroled.

Fifty-five percent of the population under correctional control is incarcerated, which ranks No. 1 in the nation.

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The report urges more use of community supervision, such as monitoring bracelets, to reduce overcrowding and high costs.

More than 31,000 Mississippi inmates were in prison or jail in 2007 compared with more than 25,000 on probation or parole, according to the Pew Center report.

Mississippi spends $33.2 million a year on housing prisoners and $13 million on parolees and probationers. That breaks down to $35.69 a day on inmates, but only $1.30 for those released but still in the criminal system.

While the cost of housing a prisoner has almost doubled over the last 25 years, the cost to deal with post-release supervision has risen about 20 percent.

With the economy faltering, the report’s authors say it’s even more important to put prisoners in programs that help reduce recidivism, such as vocational training, to reduce the stress an increasing prison population puts on state budgets.