NEW DATA: After Almost Ten Years of Decline U.S. Prison Population Grew in 2022

Preliminary figures released this week by the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that the prison population has grown for the first time in almost a decade.

Related to: Incarceration

WASHINGTON, DC – Preliminary figures released this week by the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that the prison population has grown for the first time in almost a decade. These numbers reveal that:

  • The U.S. prison population in 2022 grew 2% in one year, reaching a total of 1,230,100 people.
  • The growth in women’s imprisonment from 2021 to 2022 was double (4%) that of men (almost 2%).
  • Thirty-five jurisdictions, including the federal government, increased their prison populations last year, led by Mississippi whose prison population grew 15%.
  • People of color remain massively overrepresented in prisons, accounting for nearly 7 in 10 people in prison.
  • U.S. jails, which hold individuals awaiting the outcome of their case and those serving sentences of less than one year, expanded 4%, reaching 663,100 people.

Fifty years since the onset of mass incarceration, the prison population remains 500% larger than in 1973. Ashley Nellis, Co-Director of Research at The Sentencing Project, issued the following statement on the alarming new numbers:

“For over a decade, the country has been moving away from a failed playbook of incarceration and overcriminalization — often motivated by bipartisan consensus to reform the country’s broken criminal legal system. But the recent, temporary, uptick in crime has tested this resolve. Rather than succumbing to fruitless impulses to get tougher, jurisdictions should redouble their efforts to decarcerate to achieve an effective and just criminal legal system.”

Changes in Prison Populations, 2021-2022

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