New Report Details State Prison Closings

After 40 years of record prison expansion in America, at least 13 states have closed – or are thinking about closing – prisons in 2011, according to a new report by The Sentencing Project, a Public Welfare Foundation grantee. The closures could result in a reduction of nearly 14,000 prison beds this year.  

The Sentencing Project report follows a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics last year that documented the first decline in the overall prison population since 1977, with 24 states reducing their prison populations in 2009.  

Michigan has led the nation in reducing prison capacity. Since 2002, the state has closed 21 facilities, reducing capacity by more than 12,000 beds for a total cost savings of $339 million. Sentencing and parole reforms have also led to decreased prison populations in New Jersey, Kansas and New York in recent years. 

Despite these recent modest decreases, the report correctly concludes that “the national scope of mass incarceration continues to pose a serious challenge.”   

To see the entire Sentencing Project report, click here.


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

Stay Informed with our eNewsletter