Skip to main content
Publications

Facts About Prisons and People in Prison

January 01, 2014
Fact sheet on the growing number of incarcerated persons in federal and state prisons with details on race, gender, substance abuse and crime offenses.

The number of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons increased by 13% from 1,317,300 to 1,483,900 between 2000 and 2012, although the totals have declined modestly since 2009.

In addition to the nearly 1.5 million people in state and federal prisons, there were 744,500 people in local jails in 2012, yielding a total incarcerated population of 2.2 million.

Between 2002 and 2011, state prison populations grew at an average rate of 0.8% per year, and the federal population at 3.2%.

Between 2009 and 2012, the number of people in American prisons decreased by 2.8%.

1 in every 108 adults in America was in prison or jail in 2012.

4,781,300 people were on probation or parole in 2012, for a total of 6,937,600 people in America under some form of criminal justice supervision.

The 2011 U.S. incarceration rate of 716 people per 100,000 population is the highest in the world.

Characteristics of People in Prison

93% of people in prison are male, 7% are female.

108,722 women were in state or federal prison in 2012.

38% of people in state or federal prisons were black, 35% were white, and 21% were Hispanic in 2011.

1 in every 13 black males ages 30 to 34 was in prison in 2011, as were 1 in 36 Hispanic males and 1 in 90 white males in the same age group.

Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives; Hispanic males have a 17% chance; white males have a 6% chance.

In 2011, the rate of prison incarceration for black women was 2.5 times higher than the rate for white women; the rate for Hispanic women was 1.4 times higher.

Nearly half (47%) of people incarcerated in state prisons in 2011 were convicted of non-violent drug, property, or public order crimes.

People convicted of drug offenses were 17% of state inmates in 2010 and 48% of federal prison inmates in 2011.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics
 
Related Posts
news
State Advocacy News: Advocacy Planning for Criminal Justice Reform
June 18, 2018

State Advocacy News: Advocacy Planning for Criminal Justice Reform

Summer offers an opportunity for advocates to build momentum for policy and organizing goals. Our State Advocacy Newsletter offers strategies and tools you can use for your next campaign.
publications
June 15, 2018

Letter Against Synthetic Drug Bill that Expands Penalties for Federal Drug Offenses

As part of a larger coalition, The Sentencing Project opposes the Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017 which would disproportionately incarcerate those with low-level federal drug offenses, concentrate power solely within the Department of Justice and criminalize people with substance use disorder who need treatment, not punishment.