The Prison Population in Colorado is Dropping. Can You Guess Why?

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Keith Humphreys, writer, researcher, and Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University nominates himself for reporting the most unreported public policy issue; the declining rate of Americans incarcerated or on probation.

Humphreys’ research theorizes that lead is a key factor associated with a decline in prison population over the past five years. His speculation is supported by a rise in lead emissions throughout the 60s and 70s resulting in a high crime rate during the 70s and 80s. Humphreys claims that even though crime rates went down in the early 90’s, incarceration rates were impacted by the remaining inmates serving long terms from the 60s and 70s while new inmates were being incarcerated.   Image courtesy

Rick Nevin is a researcher who dug deeper into the lead theory. Nevin’s investigative studies reveal that young offender incarceration rates have decreased since the dawning of 2000. In the mean time older offenders were increasing and the incarceration rate remained high. The reasoning behind Nevin’s hypothesis is that the older offenders grew up during the time period when lead emissions were high and young offenders were not exposed to lead being raised in a more environmentally conscious era.

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