Sentencing and Corrections - Characteristics Of Prisoners

percent federal inmates prisons

Gender

In 2002 women accounted for a total of 89,044 prisoners under state (76,200) and federal (12,844) correctional authorities. Of females in state prisons in 2001, 24,400 (32 percent) were convicted of violent offenses, 23,200 (30.4 percent) on drug offenses, and 20,000 (26.2 percent) on property offenses. (See Table 6.9.) From 1995 to 2001 the number of females in state prisons increased for violent offenses by 48.6 percent, for property offenses by 22.3 percent, and for drug offenses by 12.8 percent. (See Table 6.10.) Since 1995 the average annual percentage increase of female prisoners (5.2 percent) has outpaced that of male prisoners (3.5 percent). (See Table 6.11.)

In 2002 men accounted for a total of 1,291,326 prisoners under state (1,132,500) and federal (158,826) correctional authorities. Of males in state prisons in 2001, 571,700 (50.4 percent) were convicted of violent offenses,

TABLE 6.10
Growth of sentenced prison population under state jurisdiction, by gender and offense, 1995–2001

All prisoners Male prisoners Female prisoners
Offense Increase, 1995–2001 Percent of total Increase, 1995–2001 Percent of total Increase, 1995–2001 Percent of total
Total 207,300 100% 189,300 100% 18,100 100%
Violent 130,800 63.1 121,300 63.9 8,700 48.6
Property 3,600 1.7 −200 4,000 22.3
Drug 30,600 14.8 28,900 15.2 2,300 12.8
Public-order 42,400 20.4 39,500 20.8 2,900 16.2
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, "Table 16: Partitioning by Gender and Offense, the Growth of the Sentenced Prison Population under State Jurisdiction, 1995–2001," in "Prisoners in 2002," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, July 2003

222,900 (19.6 percent) on drug offenses, and 213,100 (18.8 percent) on property offenses. From 1995 to 2001 the number of males in state prisons increased for violent offenses by 63.9 percent, for public-order offenses by 20.8 percent, and for drug offenses by 15.2 percent. In 2002 the rate of sentenced male prisoners (912 per 100,000 males in the resident population) was significantly higher than the rate for sentenced females (61 per 100,000 females).

Race and Ethnicity

According to "Prisons in 2002," between 1995 and 2002, there were only slight changes in the percentages of federal or state prisoners by race and ethnicity. In 1995

TABLE 6.11
Prisoners under jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities, by gender, year end 1995, 2001, and 2002

Men Women
All inmates
2002 1,343,164 97,491
2001 1,313,053 92,979
1995 1,057,406 68,468
Percent change,
2001–2002 2.4% 4.9%
Average annual
1995–2002 3.5 5.2
Sentenced to more than 1 year
2002 1,291,326 89,044
2001 1,260,033 85,184
Percent change,
2001–2002 2.5% 4.5%
Incarceration rate *
2002 906 60
1995 789 47
*The number of prisoners with sentences of more than 1 year per 100,000 residents on December 31.
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, "Table 5: Prisoners under the Jurisdiction of State or Federal Correctional Authorities by Gender, 1995, 2001, and 2002," in "Prisoners in 2002," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin,July 2003

white inmates made up 33.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, while blacks were 45.7 percent, and Hispanics were 17.6 percent. In 2002 white inmates were 34.2 percent of the prison population, blacks were 45.1 percent, and Hispanics were 18.1 percent. Of the 1,291,326 male prisoners under state or federal correctional authority in 2002, black males made up 45.4 (586,700) percent of the total, white males 33.8 percent (436,800), and Hispanic males 18.1 percent (235,000). Of the 89,044 female prisoners, black females made up 40.4 percent (36,000) of the total, white females 39.7 percent (35,400), and Hispanic females 16.8 percent (15,000).

Offenses

Of the four offense categories (violent, property, drug, and public-order), the largest growth in state prisoners from 1995 to 2001 was among violent offenders. Of the 207,300 additional prisoners in state prisons during this period, violent offenders made up 63.1 percent (130,800). Public-order offenders were 20.4 percent (42,400) of the increase, drug offenders 14.8 percent (30,600), and property offenders 1.7 percent (3,600). (See Table 6.10.)

Among the 90,700 additional white inmates in state prison from 1995 to 2001, violent offenders made up 58.7 percent of the total, public-order offenders were 20 percent (18,000), and drug offenders were 17.9 percent (16,200). The black inmate population in state prisons grew during this period by 83,200. Violent offenders made up 56.9 percent of the increase (47,400), drug offenders 22.9 percent (19,100), and public-order offenders 20.2 percent

TABLE 6.12
Growth of sentenced prison population under state jurisdiction, by race, Hispanic origin, and offense, 1995–2001

White prisoners Black prisoners Hispanic prisoners
Offense Increase, 1995–2001 Percent of total Increase, 1995–2001 Percent of total Increase, 1995–2001 Percent of total
Total 90,700 100% 83,200 100% 35,300 100%
Violent 53,100 58.7 47,400 56.9 29,900 81.5
Property 3,000 3.3 0 −100%
Drug 16,200 17.9 19,100 22.9 −1,400
Public-order 18,000 20 16,800 20.2 6,800 18.5
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, "Table 17: Partitioning by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Offense, the Growth of the Sentenced Prison Population under State Jurisdiction, 1995–2001," in "Prisoners in 2002," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, July 2003

(16,800). Of the additional 35,300 Hispanic inmates in state prison from 1995 to 2001, violent offenders were 81.5 percent of the total (29,900) and public-order offenders were 18.5 percent (6,800). (See Table 6.12.)

Between 1995 to 2001 the number of incarcerated violent offenders in federal prisons rose from 11,409 to 16,117, an increase of 41.3 percent. Federal inmates sentenced for property offenses in this period increased by 36 percent, from 7,842 to 10,664. The number of drug offenders in federal prisons rose from 52,782 in 1995 to 78,501 in 2001, an increase of 48.7 percent. The number of public order offenders in federal prisons increased by 132.8 percent, from 15,655 to 36,443.

Many inmates were in possession of a firearm during the offense for which they are currently serving time in prison, according to Firearm Use by Offenders (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2001). In 1997, among inmates in federal prisons, 15.5 percent of males and 6.2 percent of females carried a firearm during their current offense. Of male inmates in state prisons, 19.1 percent had carried a firearm compared to 7.3 percent of female inmates. Younger inmates were more likely to have carried a firearm when committing their current offense: 35.5 percent of state prisoners 20 years old or younger and 23 percent of federal prisoners in the same age group. (See Table 6.13.)

Mental Health

In 2000, 10 percent of all state inmates were receiving psychotropic medications, and one in eight state prisoners were in some type of mental health therapy or counseling, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some 217,420 prisoners were confined in 155 state facilities specializing in psychiatric confinement.

Of state prison inmates, 22.1 percent of females confined to female-only facilities were receiving psychotropic medication as of mid-year 2000, compared to 8.7 percent

TABLE 6.13
Possession of a firearm during current offense, by selected characteristics for state and federal prison inmates, 1997

Prison inmates
State Federal
Selected characteristic Number Percent who possessed a firearm during current offense Number Percent who possessed a firearm during current offense
Gender
Male 972,572 19.1% 81,102 15.5%
Female 64,669 7.3 6,364 6.2
Race/Hispanic origin
White 346,188 14.8% 25,977 16.7%
Black 482,302 21.1 33,100 17.7
Hispanic 176,089 17.6 24,040 8.1
Other 32,662 19.3 4,349 17.9
Age
20 or younger 61,663 35.5% 935 23.0%
21–24 143,533 26.8 6,865 18.6
25–34 396,166 16.5 31,970 15.5
35–44 305,765 13.3 26,636 12.8
45–54 100,133 17.4 14,393 15.3
55 or older 29,980 21.7 6,667 13.0
Educational attainment
Some high school or less 445,479 16.8% 25,642 13.9%
GED 260,743 23.6 17,150 19.2
High school diploma 190,805 16.7 21,292 14.5
Some college 110,122 16.5 15,233 15.1
College graduate 27,649 12.1 7,963 8.3
Citizenship
United States 983,876 18.5% 71,307 16.9%
Latin America 47,257 14.5 14,638 5.7
Other 4,609 22.0 1,376 2.4
Military service
Served 129,913 16.4% 12,746 17.2%
Did not serve 907,142 18.6 74,676 14.4
SOURCE: Caroline Wolf Harlow, "Table 5: Possession of a Firearm During Current Offense, by Selected Characteristics for State and Federal Prison Inmates, 1997," in "Firearm Use by Offenders," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, November 2001

of male state prisoners in male-only facilities. Of state prisoners confined to facilities housing both males and females, 15.2 percent of inmates were receiving psychotropic medication as of June 30, 2000. Inmates in female-only facilities were also more likely to receive therapy or counseling in 2000 (27.1 percent), compared to inmates in male-only facilities (11.9 percent), and in institutions that housed both males and females (14.3 percent). (See Table 6.14.)

Education

Compared to the general population, federal and state prisoners have a lower level of educational attainment. In 1997, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 18.4 percent of the general population 18 years or older had not completed high school. Inmates in state prisons had a rate of 39.7 percent, more than double the rate for the general population, while those in federal prisons had a rate of 26.5 percent. In the general population, 33.2 percent attained a high school diploma as their highest level of education. Among inmates in federal prisons the rate was 27 percent and in state prisons 20.5 percent. Prisoners were more likely than the general population to have earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, a test which indicates the same level of attainment as a high school graduate: 28.5 percent of state prisoners had a GED, while 22.7 percent of federal prisoners had a GED. In the general population, 26.4 percent went beyond high school to attend college but did not attain a degree. Among state prisoners 9 percent attended college, while 15.8 percent of federal prisoners had attended college. Twenty-two percent of the general population were college graduates, while only 8.1 percent of federal prisoners and 2.4 percent of state prisoners had college degrees. (See Table 6.15.)

About nine out of 10 state prisons offer inmates an educational program. All federal prisons offer educational programs of some kind. The most common programs available are secondary education, offered by 98.7 percent of federal prisons, basic adult education (97.4 percent), and vocational training programs (93.5 percent). Among state prisons 91.2 percent have an educational program. The most common programs are secondary education, offered by 83.6 percent of state prisons, basic adult education (80.4 percent), and vocational training programs (55.7 percent). (See Table 6.16.) About 52 percent of state prisoners and 57 percent of federal prisoners have taken a class while in prison.

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