America's state prison population declines

Montgomery, AL (WSFA) -- For the first time in almost 40 years, the number of inmates in state prisons declined across the country, but not Alabama.

According to the PEW center, the number of inmates in state prisons dropped 0.4% percent last year nationwide.  That's the first overall drop since 1972.

The study also says budget cuts in almost every state have lead to more early release programs.  However, Alabama was one of only 8 states to see more than a 3% increase in state inmates with More than 26,000 inmates.

The state's prison commissioner says early releases are not an option, and money doesn't seem to be an issue.  When you compare how much Alabama is spending on prisoners to how much the state is spending on students.

The state budget allots $393 million for prisons which works out to just over $15,000 per inmate.  Compare that to the state's $5.3 billion dollar education budget that serves 749,000 students in Alabama which works out to less than $7,100 per student.

Both commissioner Richard Allen and Governor Bob Riley have said they are committed to making sure every inmate stays behind bars.

State lawmakers are on spring break this week.  That means it will be at least next week before the Department of Corrections will find out how much money it has to work with.

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