By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's adult prison population has fallen below 50,000 for the first time in four years, giving hope to officials trying to reduce the number of inmates behind bars.
The official tally taken each Tuesday was 49,596 inmates this week, 45,553 of whom were men.
That's a drop of 179 from last month at the same time and 996 fewer inmates the same time a year ago.
The state is eager to reduce the number of inmates to save money and to prevent crime by keeping low-level offenders close to home and the support of family and social services.
Prisons director Gary Mohr says money saved through the reduction is better spent on programs helping needy Ohioans at an early age.