The U.S. Prison Population
- One in 31 adults in the U.S. is under some form of correction supervision—the world’s highest incarceration rate (Pew, 2008).
- More than one in every 100 adults in America is behind bars (Pew, 2008).
- With 1,596,127 adults in state or federal prison custody, and another 723,131 in local jails, the total adult inmate count at the beginning of 2008 stood at 2,319,258 (Pew, 2008).
- One in every 53 people in their 20s is behind bars (Pew, 2008).
- State and federal prisons will swell by more than 192,000 inmates over the next five years (Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population, Pew, 2007).
- Imprisonment levels are expected to keep rising in all but four states, reaching a national rate of 562 per 100,000, or one of every 178 Americans (Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population, Pew, 2007).
- By 2012, the nation’s combined prison population will outnumber the residents of Atlanta, Baltimore and Denver combined (Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population, Pew, 2007).
- The United States incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including the far more populous nation of China (Pew, 2008).
- The U.S. prison population rose by more than 25,000 inmates in 2007—a 1.6 percent rate of growth (Pew, 2008).
- If rates of first incarceration and mortality in 2001 remain unchanged, nearly 1 in 15 persons (6.6%) will serve time in a prison during their lifetime (Prevalence of Imprisonment in the U.S. Population, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003).
- The U.S. incarceration rate has more than tripled since 1980 (Correctional Populations in the United States, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996).
Female Prison Population
- There are now almost eight times the number of women in prison than there were just 30 years ago (HARD HIT: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004, Institute on Women & Criminal Justice, 2006).
- Men still are roughly 10 times more likely to be in jail or prison, but the female population is growing at a far faster rate (Pew, 2008).
- The number of women prisoners is projected to grow by 16 percent by 2011, while the male population will increase 12 percent (Public Safety, Public Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population, Pew, 2007).
The Cost of Criminal Justice
- Total state spending on corrections—including bonds and federal contributions—topped $49 billion in 2007, up from $12 billion in 1987 (Pew, 2008).
- In 2007, the states spent more than $44 billion in general funds, a 315 percent jump, and more than $49 billion in total funds from all sources (Pew, 2008).
- While figures vary widely by state, the average spent to keep a prisoner behind bars—whether he or she has committed murder or written bad checks—was $23,876 per year (Pew, 2008).
- The total bill for criminal justice (to arrest, convict and incarcerate) in 2001 was more than $167 billion (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2004).
- By 2011, continued prison growth is expected to cost states an additional $25 billion (Pew, 2007).
- In 1980, about half the people entering state prisons were violent offenders; in 1995, less than a third of state prisoners had been convicted of a violent crime. In that same period, spending on state and federal prison increased five times (The Atlantic Monthly, December 1998).
- One in 10 prisoners are reincarcerated within three years of their release from prison (Pew, State of Recidivism, 2011).
- In the United States, nearly 700,000 people are released from prison each year, and an estimated 9 million individuals are released from jail (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007).
- 66 percent of released prisoners are arrested again within three years either for a new crime or for violating the terms of their release and 52 percent end up back in prison within three years (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002).
Children of Prisoners
- There are more than 2.7 million children in the United States with an incarcerated parent (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010. Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility, Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts).
- An estimated 7.3 million children have a parent in prison or under some form of state or federal supervision (FAMILIES Left Behind: The Hidden Costs of Incarceration and Reentry, The Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, June 2005).
- Some 10 million young people in the United States have had a mother or father—or both—spend time behind bars at some point in their lives (U.S. News & World Report, April 2002).
- One-third of the two million men in state and federal prisons have fathered two or more children (Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2001).
- In general, more than 60 percent of offenders in state and federal prisons in the United States are incarcerated more than 100 miles from their last place of residence, cutting down opportunities for family visits (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
- 57 percent of fathers and 54 percent of mothers in state prison have never had a personal visit with their children during their imprisonment (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
- The average age of prison inmates’ minor children is eight years old. Black children are nearly nine times more likely to have a parent in prison than white children, while Hispanic children were three times more likely (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
- More than 80 percent of the children of prisoners live with their other parent, while about 20 percent live with grandparents and other relatives and 2 percent live in a foster home, agency or institution. (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
- While about 90 percent of incarcerated fathers report that their children live with their mothers, only 28 percent of female prisoners say their children’s father is the child’s caregiver (Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
The Effectiveness of Faith-based Prison Programs
- Participation by prisoners in multiple in-prison Bible studies conducted by Prison Fellowship reduced their recidivism by 66 percent (Justice Quarterly, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, March 1997).
- Inmates involved in a faith-based program at the Humaita prison in Brazil, which came under the leadership of Prison Fellowship in 1989, had a 16 percent rate of re-arrest, while those involved in the vocation-based Braganca program in Brazil had a 36 percent rate. Brazil’s recidivism average is 60 to 70 percent (Assessing the Impact of Religious Programs and Prison Industry on Recidivism, 2002).
- In a University of Pennsylvania study released in 2003, InnerChange Freedom Initiative graduates were 50 percent less likely to be re-arrested than the matched comparison group. The two-year, post-release, re-arrest rate among InnerChange Freedom Initiative program graduates in Texas was 17.3 percent, compared with 35 percent for the matched comparison group.