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Mass. has lowest incarceration rate in 35 years. Experts say there’s room to improve

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MetroWest Daily News, May 2022

The state’s prison population has declined by more than 40% in the past decade, but experts say the state should continue exploring ways to further reduce it, including releasing those convicted of some violent crimes. The number of prisoners in Department of Correction facilities has decreased from 11,723 in 2012 to 6,848 in 2021, according to the department’s 2020 annual report. With its lowest incarceration rate in 35 years, the state announced last month that it would phase out its housing operations at the maximum-security MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole.

One expert, however, said the state will need to take a new approach if it hopes to further reduce its prison population. Kevin Wozniak, director of the criminal justice and criminology major at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said releasing only those convicted of non-violent offenses may be a mistake. He said violent offenders have some of the lowest recidivism rates, meaning they are less likely to commit crimes after release.

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