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Rhode Island

Total Correctional Population: 24,300 

Number on Parole or Probation: 23,200

Number in Local Jail or Prison: 3,100

Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 290 

Incarceration Rate Rank: 48th 

Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 6.0%


“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers 



June 28, 2019

“These regulations do not protect public safety. They bar people from employment, and too often the result of unemployment is homelessness, hunger, and re-incarceration.”

Rhode Island Senate Bill 610, which would reform the state’s occupational licensing requirements, was unanimously passed by the Senate this week with a vote of 37-0.  The bill would create a process to determine whether a prior conviction was relevant to the licensed occupation, and ensure a license could not be denied solely on the basis of a criminal record. More than 100 occupations in Rhode Island currently require a background check inclusive of non-related convictions and “crimes of moral turpitude,” and 40% of licensed occupations are in the state’s fastest-growing fields.

March 22, 2019

“Data from our study can be used to develop national standards of care for incarcerated pregnant women ...”

A survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that nearly 1,396 pregnant women were admitted to prisons in 22 state prisons and the federal prison system over a 12-month period from 2016 to 2017, nearly 4% of all new female admissions. Rates of pregnancy prevalence for women who were incarcerated varied widely by state—from 4.4% in Vermont and 3.8% in Rhode Island to 0.4% in Mississippi and 0.2% in Tennessee. There were 753 live births, 46 miscarriages, and no maternal deaths. The survey is believed to be the first systematic assessment of pregnancy outcomes for women who are incarcerated.

March 1, 2019

 “If you are a dealer, this does not protect you. This protects the addicted.”

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha proposed legislation this week that would classify the possession of small amounts of narcotics as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. Possession of small amounts of marijuana is already classified as a misdemeanor in the state. Neronha’s proposal would also lower the maximum sentence for simple possession from three years to one year in prison. Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey agreed to sponsor the legislation.

February 16, 2018

“We wanted to see if that intervention could impact state overdose mortality, and the answer is a resounding yes.”

A new study out of Rhode Island showed a more than 60% reduction in opioid overdose deaths among those who had access to medication-assisted treatment behind bars. The state’s treatment program, started as a pilot program in 2016 and expanded statewide in early 2017, provided buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone to incarcerated individuals and referred them to additional treatment programs upon release. The number of overdose deaths dropped from 26 in the first half of 2016 to 9 in the first half of 2017; statewide overdose deaths in the general population also dropped from 179 to 157 in the same period.

February 2, 2018

“An examination of the 'statehouse-to-prison pipeline’ is long overdue.”

A new report from the Rhode Island ACLU examined how over-criminalization plagues their state’s justice system. Between 2000 and 2017, the General Assembly created more than 170 new crimes, and increased dozens of criminal sentences for existing offenses. The report’s recommendations include a comprehensive review and recodification of the state’s criminal laws, and requirements for more information on the exact impact any new sentencing bill would have before lawmakers take a vote.