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Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: more testimony on the anti-protest bill; plus we will take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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More Room at the “Inn” in WI a Good Thing

March 23, 2010

MADISON, Wis. - The number of inmates calling Wisconsin prisons "home" has dropped, along with the national number, which has dipped year-to-year for the first time since 1972. According to a Pew survey, Wisconsin's prison population was down 1.2 percent from 2008 to 2009. That represents 268 fewer inmates.

Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, says even a slight decrease in the Wisconsin prison population is significant.

"This is a small drop, but what it says is that states are starting to recognize that they don't have to sink so much of their budgets into prisons in order to protect public safety. There are better, more cost-efficient ways."

Nationally, persons under the jurisdiction of state prison authorities fell by almost 6,000. Gelb says the drop is due, in part, to policy options including diverting low-level offenders and probation and parole violators from prison, strengthening community supervision and re-entry programs, and accelerating the release of non-violent inmates who complete risk reduction programs.

Gelb says many variables come into play when looking at these lower Wisconsin and national numbers.

"Prison populations and how much we pay for prisons is not something that is just determined by crime rates and demographic trends. It really is significantly a function of the decisions that are made by legislators, by governors, by parole boards and the courts about who they send to prison and for how long."

Another factor in the lower numbers could be demographic in nature, with the state's population aging.

The full report is at www.pewtrusts.org

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI