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Iowa’s 10-year prison population forecast released

December 6, 2017
Special to The News-Herald , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The Iowa Department of Human Rights' Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning has released projections for Iowa's prison population for Fiscal Years 2017 - 2027. Forecasted figures utilize data assessing current prison admissions, length of incarceration, and prison releases.

The prison forecast is one of several tools used by all three branches of government to assess the implications of the projections and to guide programmatic or policy decisions. To date, the Department of Corrections, state government officials, and policy makers have made many efforts to help ensure that the state prison population does not reach the forecasted growth figures. Additional opportunities for change are identified in this year's report. The intent of these potential policy changes is to reduce the prison population while preserving public safety.

Highlights of the report include the following:

Since FY 2011, the prison population has decreased. After a record high of 9,009 in April, 2011, the population declined to 8,078 in 2013 before increasing slightly in the past few years to 8,371 inmates as of June 30, 2017. This reduction is largely attributable to an increase in prison releases since FY 2011, particularly the proportion of inmates released via parole.

Between FY 2016 and FY 2017, the increase in prison admissions were largely for lower-level felony and misdemeanor admissions, which involve a shorter average length of stay.

In FY 2017, there was a decrease in average length of stay for offenders admitted to prison on new class B and D felonies, as well as C felony and aggravated misdemeanor non-person categories.

From FY 2016 to FY 2017, there were similar proportions of offenders released via completion of sentence and parole, and a slightly higher number of offenders on work release.

If current trends, policies, and practices continue, the state prison population is projected to increase from 8,371 inmates to 8,611, between June 30, 2017 and June 30, 2018. The ten-year projection indicates a 24 percent increase, from 8,371 inmates to 10,396 inmates.

A key function of the prison forecast is to inform public policy decisions that can curb the rate of prison growth. It is important to note that sentencing reform has the potential to influence projections but the impact and effects of these policies can take several years to be realized.

The entire report can be found at:



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