Figures recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that prisoners under federal and state jurisdiction at year-end 2008 numbered 1,610,446. This was an increase of .08 percent from 2007 to 2008, and represents the slowest increase in federal and state prisoners since 2000.
Inmates under local jurisdiction represented an additional 785,556 individuals, for a combined total of 2,304,115 incarcerated individuals. This figure includes offenders in privately operated facilities and community corrections centers but excludes inmates held in U.S. territories, in military facilities, in U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) facilities, in jails in Indian country, and in juvenile facilities. There was a .03 percent increase in individuals in custody from 2007 to 2008. (See Table 1.)
In looking at state figures for this time period, 20 states showed a decline in the number of prisoners while 29 states showed an increase. Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona had the highest increases.
The 2008 incarceration rate (which includes inmates in federal, state, and local custody) was 754 individuals for every 100,000 people in the general U.S. population. Although there was a slight decrease in the incarceration rate from 2007 to 2008 (from 756 per 100,000 to 754), the increase from 2000 (684 per 100,000) to 2008 was about 10 percent. Figure 1 shows the rise in U.S. corrections populations from 1980 to present.
Prisoners and Imprisonment Rates
Males made up 93 percent of the prison population under state or federal jurisdiction with an imprisonment rate of 952 per 100,000 of the general population. The female imprisonment rate was 68 per 100,000 U.S. residents. Of those individuals sentenced to one year or more, the rates were 487 per 100,000 for Whites, 3,161 per 100,000 for Blacks, and 1,200 per 100,000 for Hispanics. (See Table 2.) The imprisonment rate for males was 15 times higher than for females, and 6.5 times higher for Black males than for White males.
Alaska has a combined state and local prison system. At year-end 2008, there were 5,014 offenders under the supervision of the Alaska Department of Corrections; this includes in-state and out-of-state facilities, as well community residential centers. From 2007 to 2008, Alaska reported a decline of 3 percent in the inmate population (but a 5 percent increase from 2008 to 2009).
The United States continues to lead all other nations in the rate of reported incarceration of individuals per 100,000 of the general population. The U.S. rate of 754 inmates per 100,000 residents is 5 to 10 times higher than that of Canada and most of the industrialized democracies of Western Europe. (See Figures 2 and 3.)
The above article is based in part on the Bureau of Justice Statistics report "Prisoners in 2008," NCJ 228417, released December 2009.