Md., Va. Prison Populations Way Down

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File photo of a jail cell block. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a jail cell block. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Maryland and Virginia are among nine states that saw their prison populations drop by more than 1,000 last year, which is indicative of a nationwide trend.

The government says the U.S. prison population dropped for the third straight year in 2012.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics says there were more than 1.5 million prison inmates last year, a drop of 1.7 percent from 2011.

The prison population hit a high of more than 1.6 million inmates in 2009.

Despite the overall decline, the federal prison population actually rose by nearly 1,500 inmates last year. The state prison population dropped by nearly 30,000 inmates.

California is responsible for most of the decrease in the number of state inmates. That’s because of a 2011 law sending non-serious, non-violent or non-sex offenders to county jails.

The seven other states that saw their prison populations drop by more than 1,000 were California, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, New York and Florida.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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