The number of people incarcerated both in Alaska and the country as a whole continues to rise. In this state the rise has been steeper than in the country as a whole and is particularly marked for the female prison population and for those sentenced to more than a year—essentially those convicted of a felony. The increases in the prison population have the state’s prison operating at above capacity, with approximately a third of those incarcerated now in a private facility in Arizona.
Figures released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in December 2007 show that federal and state correctional authorities held jurisdiction over close to 1.6 million prisoners at the end of 2006. This was an increase of 2.8 percent over the previous year. Between 2000 and 2006, the correctional prison population grew from nearly 1.4 million to almost 1.6 million (Table 1). This is a total increase of 13 percent in six years.
The preceding figures cover only those under state and federal jurisdiction. If the number of inmates in local jails is added, the total at the end of 2006 was close to 2.26 million—an increase of 17 percent since 2000 (Table 2). This total still excludes those in military facilities, in jails in Indian country, in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, in territorial prisons and in juvenile facilities (Table 3).
The number of people incarcerated by Alaska has been rising at a rate faster than in the nation as a whole—from 4,173 in 2000 to 5,069 at the end of 2006—an increase of over 21 percent.
The sentenced prisoner population—those serving sentences of more than one year—has grown nationally by 13 percent, from more than 1.3 million in 2000 to slightly over 1.5 million in 2006. In Alaska, the rise in this population has been much steeper, growing 46 percent over the same period, from 2,128 to 3,116.
The number of female prisoners in both Alaska and the nation as whole has also grown faster than the overall prisoner population. Again, this increase has been marked in Alaska. In Alaska, the number of women prisoners at the end of 2000 was 284; in 2006 it was 518. This was an increase of 82 percent (Table 4).
The increase in the national female prison population was 21 percent.
Prisoners in Private Facilities
The Alaska in-state prison facilities were operating at 105 percent of highest capacity in 2006, and approximately one third—1,681 prisoners—of Alaska’s total incarcerated population was held in a private facility in Arizona at the end of 2006. (Alaska sends only male prisoners, usually those sentenced to longer terms, to the Arizona facility.)
Figures in this article were derived from The Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin “Prisoners in 2006” (NCJ-219416).