Characteristics of Inmates - Types Of Crimes
federal offenses prisoners prisons
Between 1980 and 2001, the number of people in the state correctional system increased by 309%, including an increase of 76.8% between 1990 and 2001, according to Key Facts at a Glance (Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 27, 2003). Most inmates were in state prisons rather than in federal facilities or local jails. Figure 5.1 shows a twenty-year history of state incarcerations divided by type of crime committed. The largest category was violent crime, which accounted for more than half of the increase in state prison population since 1995. Prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses grew from 19,000 in 1980 to 246,100 in 2001 as measured by state prison population. Between 1990 and 2001, the group confined for crimes against the public order increased from 45,500 prisoners to 129,900 prisoners. These crimes include illegal weapons possession, drunken driving, flight to escape prosecution, obstruction of justice, liquor law violations, and others.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in Key Facts at a Glance (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/corrtyptab.htm), nearly half (49.4%) of all prison inmates were serving time for violent crimes in 2001.
|Percent change, 2002–2003||2.0%||3.6%|
|Average annual 1995–2003||3.3%||5.0%|
|Sentenced to more than 1 year|
|Percent change, 2002–2003||1.9%||4.2%|
|*The number of prisoners with sentences of more than 1 year per 100,000 residents on December 31.|
A fifth of all prisoners (20.4%) were serving for drug offenses, and another fifth (19.3%) for property crimes. The remaining 10.9% of prisoners have been convicted of offenses against the public order.
The distribution of offenses has changed somewhat over the period shown in Figure 5.1, dramatically in some instances. Thus in 1980 inmates incarcerated for drug offenses accounted for less than 7% of total prisoners; by
1990 they reached a peak of 22%, declining slightly thereafter. Violent crimes represented 59% of all incarcerations in 1980, dropped to a low in this period of 46% in 1990, but have been increasing in share of total offenses since. The largest drop in share has been in property crime. The category dropped from 30% in 1980 to 26% in 1990 and finally to less than 20% of total inmates in 2001.
In 2003 there were nearly eight people in state prison for every one in federal facilities. While in state prisons a fifth of all inmates were held for drug offenses, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported at its Web site (http://www.bop.gov/about/facts.jsp#4) that at the federal level more than half (53.8%) were imprisoned for drug violations as of March 2005. (See Table 5.4.) The next three categories of inmates in terms of percentage were: weapons violations, explosives charges, and arson (13% of offenders), immigration violations (11.1%), and robbery (6.1%).
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Quick Facts (http://www.bop.gov/news/quick.jsp), most federal inmates were male (93.2%) in March 2005. The inmate population at that time comprised 56.7% whites, 40% African-Americans, 1.7.% Native Americans, and 1.6% Asians. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that among those incarcerated in federal prisons, 71.5% were American citizens, 17.2% were citizens of Mexico, 1.9% were Colombian citizens, 1.9% were citizens of the Dominican Republic, and 1% were Cuban citizens. The remaining 6.5% were either of unknown or other citizenship.