By Gretchen Schuldt
The state's prison population is growing again after a long decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of adults incarcerated in state facilities declined to 19,381 on May 14, down significantly from the June 2019 level of almost 23,600 reported by the Wisconsin Policy Forum in its 2021-23 state budget brief.
At the height of the outbreak DOC basically closed its doors to new inmates, shoving the problem of housing them downstream to local jails. And courts shut down or dramatically reduced operations, which also reduced the flow of inmates to prison.
Then, this spring, prisons began accepting people again. The prison population ticked upward the week of May 21 and has increased every week since, according to Department of Corrections data. On Sept. 24, 20,132 people were incarcerated in the state's adult facilities.
Current inmate numbers are likely to increase further as courts resume normal operations and more people are sentenced.
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