Drug War Facts

Prisons, Jails and Probation – Overview

  1. "During 2006 the total Federal, State, and local adult correctional population — incarcerated or in the community - grew by 159,500 persons to over 7.2 million. The growth of 2.3% during the year was about the same as the average annual increase in the correctional population since 1995 (2.5%). About 3.2% of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults, were incarcerated or on probation or parole at yearend 2006."

    Source:  Glaze, Lauren E., and Bonczar, Thomas P., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ220218, p. 2.

  2. As of December 31, 2006, State and Federal correctional authorities held 1,570,861 prisoners under their jurisdiction. Of these, 193,046 were incarcerated in Federal prisons and 1,377,815 were incarcerated in State prisons.

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, p. 2, Table 1.

  3. "The number of prisoners under Federal jurisdiction during 2006 increased by 2.9%. This increase was less than the average annual growth of 5.8% per year that occurred from 2000 through 2005. Conversely, the number of prisoners under the jurisdiction of State authorities increased more rapidly during 2006 than in the previous 5 years. The State prison population increased by 2.8% during 2006, compared to an average annual increase of 1.5% from 2000 through 2005."

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, p. 1.

  4. State prisons held a total of 1,274,600 inmates on all charges at yearend 2004. In absolute numbers an estimated 633,700 inmates in State prison at yearend 2004 (the latest year for which offense data is available) were held for violent offenses: 151,500 for murder, 178,900 for robbery, 129,400 for assault, and 153,800 for rape and other sexual assaults. In addition, 265,600 inmates were held for property offenses, 249,400 for drug offenses, and 88,900 for public-order offenses.

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, p. 24, Appendix Table 9.

  5. Federal prisons were estimated to hold 176,268 sentenced inmates as of Sept. 30, 2006. Of these, 16,507 were incarcerated for violent offenses, including 2,923 for homicide, 9,645 for robbery, and 3,939 for other violent crimes. In addition, 10,015 inmates were serving time for property crimes, including 519 for burglary, 6,437 for fraud, and 3,059 for other property offenses. A total of 93,751 were incarcerated for drug offenses. Also, 54,336 were incarcerated for public-order offenses, incluging 19,496 for immigration offenses and 24,298 for weapons offenses.

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, p. 26, Appendix Table 13.

  6. "At yearend 2006 correctional facilities in the United States held an estimated 2,385,213 inmates in custody, including inmates in Federal and State prisons, territorial prisons, local jails, facilities operated by or exclusively for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), military facilities, jails in Indian country, and youth in juvenile facilities. During 2006 the total incarcerated population increased by 2.8%, or 64,579 inmates."

    Federal and State Prisons 1,492,973 (which excludes State and Federal prisoners in local jails)
    Territorial Prisons 15,205
    Local Jails 766,010(as of June 30, 2006)
    ICE Facilities 14,482
    Military Facilities 1,944
    Jails in Indian Country 1,745(as of midyear 2004)
    Juvenile Facilities 92,854(as of March 29, 2006)

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, p. 3.

  7. "At midyear 2006, 750 persons per 100,000 U.S. residents were in prison or jail, the equivalent to 1 in every 133 residents (Appendix table 10). This is an increase from 744 persons in prison or jail per 100,000 residents at midyear 2005."

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Minton, Todd D., and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June 2007), NCJ217675, p. 8.

  8. According to the American Corrections Association, the average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the US is $67.55. State prisons held 249,400 inmates for drug offenses in 2006. That means it cost states approximately $16,846,970 per day to imprison drug offenders, or $6,149,144,050 per year.

    Sources: American Correctional Association, 2006 Directory of Adult and Juvenile Correctional Departments, Institutions, Agencies and Probation and Parole Authorities, 67th Edition (Alexandria, VA: ACA, 2006), p. 16; Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, p. 24, Appendix Table 9.

  9. According to the Department of Justice, in 2006 there were 7,211,400 persons in the US corrections system, of whom 4,237,023 were on probation, 798,202 were on parole, 766,010 were in jails, and 1,492,973 were in state and federal prisons. In 1995, there were 5,342,900 people in the correctional population of whom 3,077,861 were on probation, 679,421 were on parole, 507,044 were in jails, and 1,078,542 were in state and federal prisons. In 2000, there were 6,445,100 people in the correctional population of whom 3,826,209 were on probation, 723,898 were on parole, 621,149 were in jails, and 1,316,333 were in state and federal prisons.

    Source: Glaze, Lauren E., and Bonczar, Thomas P., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ220218, p. 2.

  10. "In 2006 the combined probation and parole populations grew by 1.8% or 87,852 persons. The growth in 2006 was slower than the average annual increase of 2.2% since 1995. Over the past 11 years, the total population under community supervision increased by over 1 million offenders, based on comparable reporting agencies. It excludes 236,014 probationers under the supervision of agencies added since 1995."

    Source: Glaze, Lauren E., and Bonczar, Thomas P., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Probation and Parole in the United States 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ220218, p. 1.

  11. "Department of corrections data show that about a fourth of those initially imprisoned for nonviolent crimes are sentenced for a second time for committing a violent offense. Whatever else it reflects, this pattern highlights the possibility that prison serves to transmit violent habits and values rather than to reduce them."

    Source: Craig Haney, Ph.D., and Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., "The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-five Years After the Stanford Prison Experiment," American Psychologist, Vol. 53, No. 7 (July 1998), p. 721.

  12. "The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, some 738 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (611), St Kitts & Nevis (547), U.S. Virgin Is. (521), Turkmenistan (c.489), Belize (487), Cuba (c.487), Palau (478), British Virgin Is. (464), Bermuda (463), Bahamas (462), Cayman Is. (453), American Samoa (446), Belarus (426) and Dominica (419).
    "However, more than three fifths of countries (61%) have rates below 150 per 100,000. (The rate in England and Wales - 148 per 100,000 of the national population - is above the mid-point in the World List.)"

    Source: Walmsley, Roy, "World Prison Population List (Seventh Edition)" (London, England: International Centre for Prison Studies, 2007), p. 1.

  13. "More than 9.25 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or as sentenced prisoners. Almost half of these are in the United States (2.19m), China (1.55m plus pretrial detainees and prisoners in 'administrative detention') or Russia (0.87m)."
    According to the US Census Bureau, the population of the US represents 4.6% of the world's total population (291,450,886 out of a total 6,303,683,217).

    Source: Walmsley, Roy, "World Prison Population List (Seventh Edition)" (London, England: International Centre for Prison Studies, 2007), p. 1; US Census Bureau, Population Division, from the web at http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html accessed July 8, 2003.

  14. The U.S. nonviolent prisoner population is larger than the combined populations of Wyoming and Alaska.

    Source: John Irwin, Ph. D., Vincent Schiraldi, and Jason Ziedenberg, America's One Million Nonviolent Prisoners (Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute, 1999), pg. 4.

  15. "The rate of growth of the State prison population slowed between 1995 and 2001 and then began to rise. During this time the percentage change in the first 6 months of each year steadily decreased, reaching a low of 0.6% in 2001, and then rose to 1.0% in 2005 (table 2). The percentage change in the second 6 months of each year showed a similar trend, resulting in an actual decrease in State prison populations for the second half of 2000 and 2001.
    "Since 1995 the Federal system has grown at a much higher rate than the States, peaking at 6.0% growth in the first 6 months of 1999. In the first 6 months of 2005, the number of Federal inmates increased 2.3%, more than twice the rate of State growth."

    Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, Allen J., PhD, US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, May 2006), p. 2.

  16. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "Over the last 25 years, the number of state facilities increased from just fewer than 600 to over 1,000 in the year 2000, an increase of about 70 percent. In other words, more than 40 percent of state prisons in operation today opened in the last 25 years."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 2.

  17. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "Figure 6 lists the top 10 states ranked from the highest growth to the lowest growth. They are Texas, Florida, California, New York, Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Colorado, and Missouri. The magnitude of prison growth in these 10 states is remarkable. Between 1979 and 2000, the number of additional prisons ranged from 19 prisons in Missouri to 120 prisons in Texas. The growth in Texas equates to an extraordinary average annual increase of 5.7 additional prisons per year over the 21-year period. As a group, the 10 states were operating more than three times as many prisons in 2000 as in 1979—increasing from 195 facilities to 604 facilities. Figure 6 shows the relative growth in each state in addition to the absolute growth. In all 10 states, the number of prisons increased by more than 100 percent over the two decades. States with the lowest relative growth are Florida, which grew by 115 percent, and New York, which grew by 117 percent. Texas is again the clear leader growing by 706 percent over the 21-year period. Indeed, Texas is in a league of its own, as it added the most prisons (120), currently has the largest number of prisons in operation (137), and experienced the largest percentage increase (706 percent)."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 9.

  18. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "The prison construction boom was not concentrated in a few, key states or in certain regions of the country. Prison systems expanded significantly in states across the country. Prison systems also expanded within states. The share of counties in the top 10 states that were home to at least one prison increased from 13 to 31 percent between 1979 and 2000. State level maps (figures 13 to 22) illustrate that new prisons were geographically dispersed throughout the states. New prisons were generally not spatially concentrated, as few counties gained three or more prisons. Finally, prisons expanded into different types of counties; prisons increased significantly in both non-metro counties and metro counties."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 42.

  19. "Over the past twenty-five years, the United States has built the largest prison system in the world. But despite a recent downturn in the crime rate, we remain far and away the most violent advanced industrial society on earth."

    Source: Currie, E., Crime and Punishment in America (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1998), p. 3.

  20. "We must have law enforcement authorities address the issue because if we do not, prevention, education, and treatment messages will not work very well. But having said that, I also believe that we have created an American gulag."

    Source: Source: Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey (USA, Ret.), Director, ONDCP, Keynote Address, Opening Plenary Session, National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, September 19, 1996, Washington, DC, on the web at http://www.nida.nih.gov/MeetSum/CODA/Keynote2.html last accessed May 25, 2007.

  21. According to the Department of Justice, studies of recidivism reveal that "the amount of time inmates serve in prison does not increase or decrease the likelihood of recidivism, whether recidivism is measured as parole revocation, re-arrest, reconviction, or return to prison."

    Source: An Analysis of Non-Violent Drug Offenders with Minimal Criminal Histories, Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice (1994, February), p. 41.

  22. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "Another issue related to prison expansion of the 1980s and 1990s is the disparity between where prisoners come from ("home counties") and where prisoners serve their sentences ("prison counties"). Many believe that the prison construction boom of the last 20 years happened in areas that were located far away from prisoners’ homes. This has been an area of concern because greater distances between a prisoner’s home and where he or she is incarcerated can negatively impact a prisoner and his or her family members. Being incarcerated far away from home makes it more challenging to maintain familial relationships and parent/child relationships in particular. In addition, challenges related to reintegrating into the community increase when a prisoner is housed far away from home. For example, steps that may facilitate prisoner reentry, such as finding a job and a place to live, are more difficult when a prisoner is imprisoned a long distance from the place to which he or she will return after release."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 33.

  23. The table below shows the average sentence (mean and median) imposed on Federal prisoners for various offenses in 2000.

    Average Federal Sentence
    Offense   Mean     Median  
    All Offenses   56.8 months     33.0 months  
    All Felonies   58.0 months     36.0 months  
    Violent Felonies   63.0 months  
    Drug Felonies   75.6 months     55.0 months  
    Property Felony - Fraud   22.5 months     14.0 months  
    Property Felony - Other   33.4 months     18.0 months  
    Public Order Felony - Regulatory   28.0 months     15.0 months  
    Public Order Felony - Other   46.5 months     30.0 months  
    Misdemeanors   10.3 months     6.0 months  

    Source: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Criminal Case Processing, 2000, With Trends 1982-2000 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, November 2001), p. 12, Table 6.

  24. States spent $42.89 billion on Corrections in 2005 alone. To compare, states only spent $24.69 billion on public assistance.

    Source: National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), 2005 State Expenditure Report (Washington, DC: NASBO, Fall 2006), p. 35, Table 18, and p. 58, Table 32.

  25. Since the enactment of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget has increased by 1,954%. Its budget jumped from $220 million in 1986 to more than $4.3 billion in 2001.

    Sources: US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1996 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, 1997), p. 20; Executive Office of the President, Budget of the United States Government, FY 2002 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 2001), p. 134.

  26. "Despite the investment of more than $5 billion for prison construction over the past decade, the prison system is currently operating at 32 percent over rated capacity, up from 22 percent at the end of 1997. These conditions could potentially jeopardize public safety."

    Sources: Executive Office of the President, Budget of the US Government, Fiscal Year 2002 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2001), p. 134.

  27. "At yearend 2006, 23 States and the Federal system operated at more than 100% of their highest capacity. Seventeen States operated at between 90% and 99% of their highest capacity. The Federal prison system was operating at 37% above its rated capacity at yearend 2006. "By comparison, in 1995 States operated at 114% of their highest capacity and 125% of their lowest reported capacity. The Federal system was operating at 26% over reported capacity in 1995."

    Source: Sabol, William J., PhD, Couture, Heather, and Harrison, Paige M., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2006 (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 2007), NCJ219416, pp. 5-6.

  28. From 1984 to 1996, California built 21 new prisons, and only one new university.

    Source: Ambrosio, T. & Schiraldi, V., "Trends in State Spending, 1987-1995," Executive Summary-February 1997 (Washington DC: The Justice Policy Institute, 1997).

  29. California state government expenditures on prisons increased 30% from 1987 to 1995, while spending on higher education decreased by 18%.

    Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, 1995 State Expenditures Report (Washington DC: National Association of State Budget Officers, 1996).

  30. "In 2003 the United States spent a record $185 billion for police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal activities. Expenditures for operating the Nation's justice system increased from almost $36 billion in 1982 to over $185 billion in 2003, an increase of 418%.
    "Local governments funded nearly half of all justice system expenses. Another 33% of direct justice funding came from the States.
    "Total justice expenditures comprised approximately 7.2% of all State and local public expenditures in 2003. Compared to justice expenditures, State and local governments continued to spend almost 4 times as much on education, twice as much on public welfare, and roughly an equal amount on hospitals and healthcare (figure 3)."

    Source: Kristen A. Hughes, "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2003" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, May 2004), NCJ212260, p. 1.

  31. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "The few studies on the local economic impacts of prisons to date have not found significant positive impacts. For example, a study by the Sentencing Project challenges the notion that a new prison brings economic benefits to smaller communities. Using 25 years of data from New York State rural counties, the authors looked at employment rates and per capita income and found 'no significant difference or discernible pattern of economic trends' between counties that were home to a prison and counties that were not home to a prison (King, Mauer, and Huling 2003). According to a recent study by Iowa State University, many towns that made sizeable investments in prisons did not reap the economic gains that were predicted (Besser 2003). Another analysis in Texas found no impacts as measured by consumer spending in nearly threefourths of the areas examined (Chuang 1998)."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 3.

  32. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "The economic benefits of new prisons may come from the flow of additional state and federal dollars. In the decennial census, prisoners are counted where they are incarcerated, and many federal and state funding streams are tied to census population counts. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (2003), the federal government distributes over $140 billion in grant money to state and local governments through formula-based grants. Formula grant money is in part based on census data and covers programs such as Medicaid, Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Social Services Block Grant (U.S. General Accounting Office 2003). Within a state, funding for community health services, road construction and repair, public housing, local law enforcement, and public libraries are all driven by population counts from the census."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 3.

  33. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "Every dollar transferred to a "prison community" is a dollar that is not given to the home community of a prisoner, which is often among the country’s most disadvantaged urban areas. According to one account, Cook County Illinois will lose nearly $88 million in federal benefits over the next decade because residents were counted in the 2000 Census in their county of incarceration rather than their county of origin (Duggan 2000). Losing funds from the "relocation" of prisoners is also an issue for New York City, as two-thirds of state prisoners are from the city, while 91 percent of prisoners are incarcerated in upstate counties (Wagner 2002a)."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 3.

  34. According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "The effect of prisoner location on population counts may also influence the allocation of political representation and, therefore, political influence (Haberman 2000). In Wisconsin, the number of state prisoners who were housed in other states (known as interstate transfers) caused concern because these prisoners would be counted in the decennial census in the states where they were incarcerated. In 1999, U.S. Representative Mark Green introduced a bill (unsuccessfully) that proposed changes to the census policy so Wisconsin prisoners held in other states would be counted as Wisconsin residents."

    Source: Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 3.

  35. "In December 2000, the Prison Journal published a study based on a survey of inmates in seven men's prison facilities in four states. The results showed that 21 percent of the inmates had experienced at least one episode of pressured or forced sexual contact since being incarcerated, and at least 7 percent had been raped in their facility. A 1996 study of the Nebraska prison system produced similar findings, with 22 percent of male inmates reporting that they had been pressured or forced to have sexual contact against their will while incarcerated. Of these, over 50 percent had submitted to forced anal sex at least once. Extrapolating these findings to the national level gives a total of at least 140,000 inmates who have been raped." Source: Human Rights Watch, "No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons - Summary and Recommendations," 2001, from the web at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/report.html last accessed May 18, 2004.

For a more complete perspective, read Drug War Facts sections on Alcohol, Crime, Drug Use Estimates, Economics, Gateway Theory, Prisons & Drug Offenders, Race and Prison, and Women.

 

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