Adding to our last post on the new Pew study, as a transplanted Rhode Islander I was thrilled to see Pew report that Rhode Island now leads the states in prison population reduction. As Bruce’s post reminds me, we never thought we’d see the day RI had fewer than 4,000 state prisoners. The RI General Assembly has recently eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, restoring judicial discretion. The Department of Corrections has increased sentence reductions for inmates’ good behavior.

Last night, the RI Senate Committee on Marijuana Prohibition released its final report, and concluded its business by releasing its final report and voting to recommend that the legislature decriminalize marijuana. This change would result in vast savings: in 2009 RI arrested 2,546 people for first-time marijuana possession. According to re-entry institute OpenDoors’s new report, in 2008 RI imprisoned 188 people and jailed 396–who spent a collective 2,366 days in jail.

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