Average Prison Stay Grew 36 percent in two Decades
For petty offenders and violent criminals alike, the length of a prison stay increased by more than a third over the past two decades, a period of time in which the prison population doubled, according to a report by the Pew Center on the States. Inmates released from prison in 2009 spent an average of 2.9 years — or 36 percent — longer behind bars than offenders released in 1990, the report found. The additional time cost taxpayers more than $10 billion.
Adam Gelb, director of the center's Public Safety Performance Project, noted that the variation among states followed no evident regional pattern, reinforcing the idea that "state policy choices, often driven by particular crimes or circumstances in that state, drive the size and cost of the prison population, rather than data and research about what’s most effective in reducing crime."
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