The Marshall Project

Maryland Leads as Prison Populations Continue to Decline

Sentencing reforms still curbing mass incarceration, but some eye reversals.

In 2017, the U.S. prison population dropped below 1.5 million people for the first time since 2004, according to a new report by the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice. A decline in several states with large prison populations, including Maryland, Louisiana and Illinois, is responsible, along with a drop in federal prisoners.

Maryland saw the largest drop, with 1,916 people exiting state custody, representing a 9.6 percent decrease, according to the report. Louisiana and Illinois, each with larger populations, lost 1,943, or 5.4 percent, and 2,230, or 5.1 percent, respectively. Although the prison population in each state has been declining for several

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