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“Not too long ago, Pennsylvania couldn’t build prisons fast enough. In one year in the 1990s, the commonwealth opened five new prisons.
“The state was not alone. Across the country, the federal and state inmate population quadrupled between 1980 and 2000, federal data show.
“Now that trend has slowed, and is even creeping backward. At a time when crime rates have fallen, and public attention has turned to the economic and social costs of such widespread incarceration, many states are trimming their counts of prisoners.”