Thursday, February 28, 2008

Iowa's Really Locking 'Em Up or Maybe Not

The New York Times ran a story showing that Iowa has the second fastest increase across the country in incarcerations. But according to the Iowa Department of Corrections, that's not quite right. The Times' story shows the lockup rate is up 6.1% from last year. Corrections' Spokesman Fred Scaletta told me the lockup rate is actually down 1.6%. Is someone a little dyslexic?

Here are the highlights of the release Scaletta sent out:

The Iowa data in the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report, "Prisoners in 2006" consists of the on-count prison population of 8,838 plus the 37 Iowa inmates held in other states at year end for a total of 8,875. These figures in the report are correct.

However the Pew Report count for January 1, 2008 reports a count of 9,419 which includes work release and OWI offenders supervised by Community-Based Corrections. The actual prison count was 8,692 plus 40 inmates held in other states for a total of 8,732.

In conclusion, the PEW Report shows that Iowa’s prison population increased 6.1 % when in fact, during the reporting period, Iowa's prison population actually decreased from 8,875 inmates to 8,732 inmates, a percent change of about -1.6%.

Other than the issues stated above the Department finds that the report provides extremely valuable information and comparison data between the states.

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