The director of the Iowa Department of Corrections announced today that there are 8,299 offenders in the state’s prison system. John Baldwin says Iowa’s prison population continues to drop after hitting a high of 8,840 inmates in October 2007. Baldwin recently attended a meeting of the Association of State Correctional Administrators and says directors from 29 states reported declines in their prison populations.

“Most (states) have stabilizing or falling prison populations, but every one of them have had to go in and make major legal changes that have impacted their prison population falling,” Baldwin told members of the Iowa Board of Corrections. He says Iowa’s falling prison population is the result of programs designed to keep offenders from reentering the system once they’re released.

“We are the only state that has had an impact by doing what we consider are evidence based practices and by putting people in the right program at the right time,” Baldwin said. A state report released in November showed fewer Iowans are being sent to prison because of felony and drug convictions.

Long range forecasts call for Iowa’s prison population to increase again to around 8,900 inmates by 2018. The projection is based on tougher sentencing standards requiring offenders convicted of violent crimes to serve at least 70% of their sentences.