Both property and violent crime rates continue to decline. In this context, it is interesting to note that the prison population has exploded. Now faced with declining revenues, states are scrambling to make adjustments in correctional spending.
This article in the Washing Post describes the problems faced by states in closing down prisons.
The prison-industrial complex is making it difficult to develop rational sentencing policy. Too many stakeholders don't want to see their source of profit (corporations that do business with prisons), overtime (correctional officers' unions), or free labor (as described in the article) disappear. But we are fast becoming a prison nation, where in out of 100 adults are incarcerated, and one in 31 adults are under some form of correctional supervision.
As a society, we have to ask if we want to spend more money building prisons or building classrooms?