Inmate Population Growth Slowing

Fewer people being sent to prison as statewide crime rate drops; trend may continue.

by Don Thompson
Associated Press

Fresno Bee, Friday, August 10, 2000

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO – California’s prison population grew by nearly 40% in the 1990s, more than twice as fast as the state’s general population, according to new census figures

As of April 1, 2000, the state had a total of 249,000 inmates, a 70,000-person increase over the decade. The state’s population on that same day was 33,871, 648. But for the first time in years, the state actually saw a decrease of 33 prisoners in the fiscal year ending in June 2000

The state also had a slower rate of growth since the 1980s, when the prison population grew by 228%.

The census also found that African-Americans were more likely to be incarcerated, and African-Americans make up 29% of those in California prisons, but only accout for 7% of the state’s population.

The numbers jumped from 59,500 in 1990 to 71,100 in 2000.

About one of every 33 California African-Americans was in jail on April 1, 2000, and about one out of 122 Hispanics was. One of every 205 non-Hispanic whites was incarcerated.

The boom in the prison population during the past two decades can be attributed to the state’s Three Strikes law and a crackdown on drugs, said Russ Heimrich, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections.

More women are also being sent to prison, mainly for drug crimes. The number rose from 17,500 in 1990 to 23,600 in 2000.