Prison Statistics: Data on Imprisonment, Recidivism, and the U.S. Justice System

  • At mid-year 2007, there were an estimated 509 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents – up from 501 at yearend 2006 (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Statistics).
  • In the United States, prisoners make up .724 percent of the population, compared with .118 in China and .183 in Brazil (International Centre for Prison Studies, cited in David Beretta, "Americans behind bars").
  • At mid-year 2007 there were 4,618 black male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,747 Hispanic male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males and 773 white male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 white males (ibid.).
  • The number of male adults in the correctional population increased by two-thirds from 1986-97 while the number of females doubled (U.S. DoJ, BJS, Additional Corrections Facts).
  • Almost 5% of the adult males and 1% of the adult females in the United States were under some form of correctional supervision in 1997 (ibid.).
  • For all races, the number of adults in the correctional population increased from 1986-97; the number of blacks almost doubled and the number of whites rose by two-thirds (ibid.).
  • In 1997, about 9% of the black population in the U.S. was under some form of correctional supervision compared to 2% of the white population and over 1% of other races (ibid.).
  • As of 1994, around 70% of released prisoners were rearrested within three years. Those guilty of property crimes showed the highest rate of recidivism (U.S. DoJ, BJS, Reentry Trends in the United States).
  • Among State parole discharges in 2000, 41% successfully completed their term of supervision; relatively unchanged since 1990 (ibid.).
  • The federal system became the largest prison system in the country in 2002, and its growth was fueled
    largely by the imprisonment of 74,000 drug offenders, and by the 338% increase in people imprisoned for immigration violations since 1995 (Justice Policy Institute, "New Prison Statistics: Nation's Use of Incarceration on the Rise Again").
  • The number of people held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities grew 43 percent in 2007, to 14,482 from 10,104 (Department of Justice, cited in Solomon Moore, "Justice Dept. Numbers Show Prison Trends").


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