The number of people paying time for a crime last year dropped to its lowest level since 2000, according to a newly released Justice Department report, the Associated Press writes .
The report shows there are nearly 7 million people – or 2.9% of U.S. adults, are in jail, on probation or on parole. That’s a 1.4% drop over the year before and the third consecutive decline, the AP reported.
Three of 10 people under some kind of supervision were behind bars, while the rest were on probation or parole.
The numbers are a promising indicator that fewer crimes are being committed, criminologists said.
“There is a lag between crime drops and correctional drops because of the length of sentences being served,” James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University told the AP. “It is likely that the correctional population will continue to decline as releases outpace admissions.”