In this NYTimes.com City Room blog post by Marc Santora, Vera President and Director Michael Jacobson's response to the 10-year, 32 percent decline in New York City's incarceration rate, announced by city officials on December 20, is featured.
Michael Jacobson, the president of the nonpartisan Vera Institute of Justice and a former commissioner of the Correction Department, said the report highlighted a drop in the prison population that began in the mid-1990s, when policing strategies started focusing on quality-of-life crimes and high-crime neighborhoods.
At the same time as felony arrests have declined, misdemeanor arrests have soared.
“The challenge is you still have huge numbers of people churning through the jail system,” Mr. Jacobson said.
People convicted of misdemeanors, however, spend comparatively little time in jail. Mr. Jacobsen said that the city’s prison population peaked around 23,000 in 1993 and has been falling steadily since, to around 12,000 people today. The state has had a similar drop in its prison population, from around 72,000 two decades ago to some 55,000 today.
“Clearly the fact that policing strategies have led to declines in both the city jail population and the state prison population is inarguable,” he said.