Rural counties defy trend of declining prison population | Arkansas Blog

Rural counties defy trend of declining prison population


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The New York Times examines an interesting happening: While prison admissions are dropping from urban counties, in part because of efforts to reduce prison populations, many rural counties defy the trend.

A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. From 2006 to 2014, annual prison admissions dropped 36 percent in Indianapolis; 37 percent in Brooklyn; 69 percent in Los Angeles County; and 93 percent in San Francisco.

But large parts of rural and suburban America — overwhelmed by the heroin epidemic and concerned about the safety of diverting people from prison — have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen, according to a New York Times analysis, which offers a newly detailed look at the geography of American incarceration.
The counties in dark blue on the map have high prison admission rates for their populations. The map is interactive at the story link. It appears that Little River County leads the way in Arkansas, with 87 prison admissions per 10,000 population, a 14% rise over the last 10 years.

Of course, Arkansas generally is defying the prison tend, with a rise in incarceration.

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