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Sentencing and Corrections - State And Federal Prisons

prisoners percent inmates offenses

Persons convicted of murder, burglary, or larceny/theft are most likely to be sent to a state prison. If the crime is a federal offense or was committed outside a state jurisdiction, the offender can be sentenced to a federal prison. Federal offenses include crimes that

  • Are committed against a federal institution (bank, post office, or federally insured credit union) or a federal officer (FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, or U.S. Treasury agent).
  • Are committed on the high seas, on government reservations or territories, or in other areas under federal jurisdiction, such as Washington, D.C.
  • Involve crossing state lines (kidnapping or transporting stolen automobiles, for example).
  • Involve interstate crime, such as telephone or mail fraud.

Prison Population

The BJS regularly surveys the nation's correctional facilities. The 2002 survey counted 2,166,260 prisoners. State and federal prisons housed two-thirds (1,440,655) of all persons incarcerated in the United States with the other third in local jails. Of those held in prisons, state prisons housed over 88.6 percent (1,277,127), while federal prisons held about 11.4 percent (163,528). These figures show a 2.5 percent increase in the state prison population and a 5.8 percent increase in the federal prison population over the previous year. (See Table 6.3.) As of June 30, 2000, there were 4,095 inmates under the age of 18 in state (3,927) and private adult (168) correctional facilities. More than half of these inmates (2,150) were incarcerated

TABLE 6.8
Number of persons held in state or federal prisons or in local jails, 1995–2002

Prisoners in custody on December 31
Total inmates in custody Federal State Inmates in jail on June 30 Incarceration rate1
1995 1,585,586 89,538 989,004 507,044 601
1996 1,646,020 95,088 1,032,440 518,492 618
1997 1,743,643 101,755 1,074,809 567,079 648
1998 1,816,931 110,793 1,113,676 592,462 669
19992 1,893,115 125,682 1,161,490 605,943 691
20003 1,937,482 133,921 1,176,269 621,149 684
20013 1,961,247 143,337 1,180,155 631,240 685
20023 2,033,331 151,618 1,209,640 665,475 701
Percent change,
2001–2002 3.7% 5.8% 2.5% 5.4%
Average annual increase,
1995–2002 3.6% 7.8% 2.9% 4.0%
Note: Counts include all inmates held in public and private adult correctional facilities.
1Number of prison and jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents at yearend.
2In 1999, 15 states expanded their reporting criteria to include inmates held in privately operated correctional facilities. For comparisons with previous years, the state count 1,137,544 and the total count 1,869,169 should be used.
3Total counts include federal inmates in nonsecure, privately operated facilities (6,598 in 2002, 6,515 in 2001 and 6,143 in 2000).
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, "Table 1: Number of Persons Held in State or Federal Prisons or in Local Jails, 1995–2002," in "Prisoners in 2002," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, July 2003

in the South, followed by the Northeast (760), the Midwest (699), and the West (486). (See Table 6.7.)

The rate of prisoners per 100,000 population has risen steadily while there has been a decline in the overall crime rate. Since 1995 the incarceration rate has risen from 601 per 100,000 to 701 per 100,000 in 2002. One in every 143 U.S. residents was incarcerated in a federal or state prison or a local jail in 2002. (See Table 6.8.)

In 2002 Maine had the highest yearly increase in the number of prisoners (11.5 percent), while Alaska saw the

TABLE 6.9
Estimated number of sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction, by offense, gender, race, and Hispanic origin, 2001

Offense All Male Female White Black Hispanic
Total 1,208,700 1,132,500 76,200 424,200 548,800 205,300
Violent offenses 596,100 571,700 24,400 208,100 267,800 102,600
Murder1 159,200 150,700 8,500 51,500 77,100 27,800
Manslaughter 16,900 15,000 1,900 6,300 6,300 3,500
Rape 30,900 30,600 300 15,100 11,700 2,700
Other sexual assault 87,600 86,600 1,000 50,700 21,300 12,600
Robbery 155,300 150,100 5,200 34,100 91,100 26,200
Assault 118,800 113,100 5,600 38,700 50,300 25,300
Other violent 27,400 25,500 1,900 11,700 10,000 4,700
Property offenses 233,000 213,100 20,000 101,800 92,300 32,500
Burglary 104,700 101,300 3,400 45,700 41,200 14,700
Larceny 45,500 39,600 5,800 17,400 20,300 6,100
Motor vehicle theft 18,000 17,300 700 6,900 6,700 4,200
Fraud 33,700 25,400 8,300 17,100 13,000 3,100
Other property 31,100 29,500 1,600 14,700 11,100 4,500
Drug offenses 246,100 222,900 23,200 57,300 139,700 47,000
Public-order offenses2 129,900 121,600 8,300 56,000 47,300 22,300
Other/unspecified3 3,600 3,200 400 900 1,700 800
Note: Data are for inmates with a sentence of more than 1 year under the jurisdiction of state correctional authorities.
1Includes nonnegligent manslaughter.
2Includes weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency charges, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses.
3Includes juvenile offenses and unspecified felonies.
SOURCE: Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, "Table 15: Estimated Number of Sentenced Prisoners Under State Jurisdiction, by Offense, Gender, Race, and Hispanic Origin, 2001," in "Prisoners in 2002," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, July 2003

largest decrease (3.8 percent). The two states with the most prisoners were also the country's largest: California (162,317) and Texas (162,003). By region, the West saw the highest increase in prisoners (3 percent), followed by the South (2.5 percent), with the Midwest and Northeast at 1.9 percent respectively. The South, the nation's most populous region, had the most prisoners overall (574,174), followed by the West (281,743), the Midwest (245,303), and the Northeast (175,907).

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