It's true.  The Austin American-Statesman reports the total population of the state's 111 prisons is now 154,000 — down 2,500 from two years ago when it was 156,500, give or take.



Experts at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice don't know if this downturn is a trend, or a one-time thing, but it's happening all over the country.

It's happening because more and more judges are sentencing criminals who meet certain qualifications to alternative treatment and rehabilitation programs that are more effective and less expensive.

The declining prison population shows these programs appear to be working.  For taxpayers, this means fewer prisons and safer communities. For criminals, it means many of them are getting a real shot at becoming law-abiding citizens.

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