NEW YORK – The city’s incarceration rate has dropped well below the national average in the last decade to a new low, officials said Thursday.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and jails and probation commissioners said the rate fell 36 percent in the city between 2001 and 2012 while the national rate grew by 3 percent.
The officials said the reduction came while crime from 2000 to 2012 dropped 32 percent. They attributed the fall in the incarceration rate to the reduction in crime and the increased use of alternatives to incarceration for misdemeanors and substance use arrests.
“New York City has not only kept our city safer; we’ve done so while locking fewer people up,” Bloomberg said. “While crime has decreased in our city, so has incarceration – through the end of last year, New York City’s incarceration rate was 30 percent below that of the nation’s. That success is neither accident nor coincidence: It’s the product of a coordinated focus across our entire criminal justice system.”
Bloomberg credited innovative programs put in place to keep people out of jail for some of the improvement. And he noted that a new program is being introduced to match defendants who have mental health problems with community-based services so they can receive treatment and reduce the need for incarceration.
City officials said the number of people incarcerated between 2001 and 2012 fell from 669 per 100,000 to 448 per 100,000 while the national incarceration rate grew from 622 per 100,000 to 641 per 100,000.
The dramatic drop in the incarceration rate has not been accompanied by a similar decrease in the costs of jailing people. The city’s Independent Budget Office said this year that the city spent about $168,000 annually on each of its 12,300 inmates last year while it spent only $92,500 on each of 14,500 inmates in 2001.