For the first time since 1972, the number of prisoners in the United States actually declined. In 2010, there were 1,605,127 million men and women being held in state and federal correctional facilities--9,228 fewer than in 2009. Overall, 1 in every 201 residents of the United States is behind bars--the highest imprisonment rate of any country in the world.
The decline in the prison population, which occurred because fewer were admitted to state prisons (the number of federal prisoners increased slightly), may indicate that financially strapped taxpayers just can't take it anymore. Between 2009 and 2010, The prison population in 25 states declined. And, for the first time since the Bureau of Justice Statistics has been collecting the statistics, the number of people released from prison (708,677) exceeded the number put behind bars (703,798).
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2010