State prisons held 1,403,091 people as of Jan. 1, nearly 6 percent fewer than a year before, the report said. Prison populations have fallen in 27 states in that period, while they have risen in 23.
"It's too early to tell whether this is a tap of the brakes or a shift into reverse," said Adam Gelb, the director of the public safety performance project of the Pew Center on the States in Washington, which produced the report. Still, Mr. Gelb said, seeing the state prison numbers dip for the first time since 1972 "took us a little bit by surprise," he said.
Check out the report here. It would have been cool if they'd broke the numbers out by race.