United States incarceration rate

In September 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners.[1] Corrections (which includes prisons, jails, probation, and parole) cost around $74 billion in 2007 according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.[2][3]

At the end of 2016, the Prison Policy Initiative estimated that in the United States, about 2,298,300 people were incarcerated out of a population of 324.2 million. This means that 0.7% of the population was behind bars. Of those who were incarcerated, about 1,316,000 people were in state prison, 615,000 in local jails, 225,000 in federal prisons, 48,000 in youth correctional facilities, 34,000 in immigration detention camps, 22,000 in involuntary commitment, 11,000 in territorial prisons, 2,500 in Indian Country jails, and 1,300 in United States military prisons.[4]

US Adult Incarceration Rate by State
A map of U.S. states by adult incarceration rate per 100,000 adult population. State prisons and local jails. Excludes federal prisoners.

Prison and jail population

US incarceration timeline-clean
Total incarceration in the United States by year
US adult correctional population timeline
Total US incarceration peaked in 2008. Total correctional population peaked in 2007.[5]

Total U.S. incarceration (prisons and jails) peaked in 2008. Total correctional population peaked in 2007.[5] If all prisoners are counted (including those juvenile, territorial, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (immigration detention), Indian country, and military), then in 2008 the United States had around 24.7% of the world's 9.8 million prisoners.[6][7][8]

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, at 754 per 100,000 (as of 2009).[9][10] As of December 31, 2010, the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) at King's College London estimated 2,266,832 prisoners from a total population of 310.64 million as of this date (730 per 100,000 in 2010).[11]

This number comprises local jails with a nominal capacity of 866,782 inmates occupied at 86.4% (June 6, 2010), state prisons with a nominal capacity of approximately 1,140,500 occupied at approximately 115% (December 31, 2010), and federal prisons with a nominal capacity of 126,863 occupied at 136.0% (December 31, 2010). Of this number, 21.5% are pretrial detainees (December 31, 2010), 8.7% are female prisoners (December 31, 2010), 0.4% are juveniles (June 6, 2009), and 5.9% are foreign prisoners (June 30, 2007).[11]

The imprisonment rate varies widely by state; Louisiana surpasses this by about 100%, but Maine incarcerates at about a fifth this rate. A report released 28 February 2008, indicates that more than 1 in 100 adults in the United States are in prison.[12]

According to a U.S. Department of Justice report published in 2006, over 7.2 million people were at that time in prison, on probation, or on parole (released from prison with restrictions). That means roughly 1 in every 32 adult Americans are under some sort of criminal justice system control.[13][14]


U.S. incarceration rates 1925 onwards
A graph of the incarceration rate under state and federal jurisdiction per 100,000 population 1925–2008. (Omits local jail inmates. Top line = males. Bottom line = females. Middle line = combined.)

In the last forty years, incarceration has increased with rates upwards of 500% despite crime rates decreasing nationally.[15] Between the years 2001 and 2012, crime rates (both property and violent crimes) have consistently declined at a rate of 22% after already falling an additional 30% in years prior between 1991 and 2001.[16] As of 2012, there are 710 people per every 100,000 U.S. residents in the United States that are imprisoned in either local jails, state prisons, federal prisons, and privately operated facilities.[16] This correlates to incarcerating a number close to almost a quarter of the prison population in the entire world.[17] Mass incarceration is an intervening variable to more incarceration.[18]

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a study which finds that, despite the total number of prisoners incarcerated for drug-related offenses increasing by 57,000 between 1997 and 2004, the proportion of drug offenders to total prisoners in State prison populations stayed steady at 21%. The percentage of Federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses declined from 63% in 1997 to 55% in that same period.[19] In the twenty-five years since the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the United States penal population rose from around 300,000 to more than two million.[20] Between 1986 and 1991, African-American women's incarceration in state prisons for drug offenses increased by 828 percent.[21]

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the growth rate of the state prison population had fallen to its lowest since 2006, but it still had a 0.2% growth-rate compared to the total U.S. prison population.[22] The California state prison system population fell in 2009, the first year that populations had fallen in 38 years.[23]

When looking at specific populations within the criminal justice system the growth rates are vastly different. In 1977, there were just slightly more than eleven thousand incarcerated women. By 2004, the number of women under state or federal prison had increased by 757 percent, to more than 111,000, and the percentage of women in prison has increased every year, at roughly double the rate of men, since 2000.[24] The rate of incarcerated women has expanded at about 4.6% annually between 1995 and 2005 with women now accounting for 7% of the population in state and federal prisons.

Comparison with other countries

Incarceration rates worldwide
The stats source is the World Prison Population List. 8th edition. Prisoners per 100,000 population.[7]

Comparing some countries with similar percentages of immigrants, Germany has an incarceration rate of 76 per 100,000 population (as of 2014),[25] Italy is 85 per 100,000 (as of 2015),[26] and Saudi Arabia is 161 per 100,000 (as of 2013).[27] Comparing other countries with a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs, the rate of Russia is 455 per 100,000 (as of 2015),[28] Kazakhstan is 275 per 100,000 (as of 2015),[29] Singapore is 220 per 100,000 (as of 2014),[30] and Sweden is 60 per 100,000 (as of 2014).[31]


Felony Sentences in State Courts.pdf
Felony Sentences in State Courts, study by the United States Department of Justice.
United States correctional population
Correctional populations in the United States 1980–2013
USA 2009. Percent of adult males incarcerated by race and ethnicity
2009. Percent of adult males incarcerated by race and ethnicity.[32]

A 2014 report by the National Research Council identified two main causes of the increase in the United States' incarceration rate over the previous 40 years: longer prison sentences and increases in the likelihood of imprisonment. The same report found that longer prison sentences were the main driver of increasing incarceration rates since 1990.[33]

Increased sentencing laws

Even though there are other countries that commit more inmates to prison annually, the fact that the United States keeps their prisoners longer causes the total rate to become higher. To give an example, the average burglary sentence in the United States is 16 months, compared to 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.[34]

Looking at reasons for imprisonment will further clarify why the incarceration rate and length of sentences are so high. The practice of imposing longer prison sentences on repeat offenders is common in many countries but the three-strikes laws in the U.S. with mandatory 25 year imprisonment — implemented in many states in the 1990s — are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States which mandate state courts to impose harsher sentences on habitual offenders who are previously convicted of two prior serious criminal offenses and then commit a third.

Economic and age contributions

Crime rates in low-income areas are much higher than in middle to high class areas. As a result, Incarceration rates in low-income areas are much higher than in wealthier areas due to these high crime rates.[35] When the incarcerated or criminal is a youth, there is a significant impact on the individual and rippling effects on entire communities. Social capital is lost when an individual is incarcerated. How much social capital is lost is hard to accurately estimate, however Aizer and Doyle found a strong positive correlation between lower income as an adult if an individual is incarcerated in their youth in comparison to those who are not incarcerated.[36] 63 percent to 66 percent of those involved in crimes are under the age of thirty.[35] People incarcerated at a younger age lose the capability to invest in themselves and in their communities. Their children and families become susceptible to financial burden preventing them from escaping low-income communities. This contributes to the recurring cycle of poverty that is positively correlated with incarceration.[37] Poverty rates have not been curbed despite steady economic growth. Poverty is not the sole dependent variable for increasing incarceration rates. Incarceration leads to more incarceration by putting families and communities at a dynamic social disadvantage.[38]

Drug sentencing laws

The "War on Drugs" is a policy that was initiated by Richard Nixon with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and vigorously pursued by Ronald Reagan.[39] By 2010, drug offenders in federal prison had increased to 500,000 per year, up from 41,000 in 1985. According to Michelle Alexander, drug related charges accounted for more than half the rise in state prisoners between 1985 and 2000. 31 million people have been arrested on drug related charges, approximately 1 in 10 Americans.[40][41] In contrast, John Pfaff of Fordham Law School has accused Alexander of exaggerating the influence of the War on Drugs on the rise in the United States' incarceration rate: according to him, the percent of state prisoners whose primary offense was drug-related peaked at 22% in 1990.[42] The Brookings Institution reconciles the differences between Alexander and Pfaff by explaining two ways to look at the prison population as it relates to drug crimes, concluding "The picture is clear: Drug crimes have been the predominant reason for new admissions into state and federal prisons in recent decades" and "rolling back the war on drugs would not, as Pfaff and Urban Institute scholars maintain, totally solve the problem of mass incarceration, but it could help a great deal, by reducing exposure to prison."[43]

After the passage of Reagan's Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986, incarceration for non-violent offenses dramatically increased. The Act imposed the same five-year mandatory sentence on those with convictions involving crack as on those possessing 100 times as much powder cocaine.[39][44] This had a disproportionate effect on low-level street dealers and users of crack, who were more commonly poor blacks, Latinos, the young, and women.[45]

Courts were given more discretion in sentencing by the Kimbrough v. United States (2007) decision, and the disparity was decreased to 18:1 by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.[46] As of 2006, 49.3% of state prisoners, or 656,000 individuals, were incarcerated for non-violent crimes. As of 2008, 90.7% of federal prisoners, or 165,457 individuals, were incarcerated for non-violent offenses.[6]

By 2003, 58% of all women in federal prison were convicted of drug offenses.[47] Black and Hispanic women in particular have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. Since 1986, incarceration rates have risen by 400% for women of all races, while rates for Black women have risen by 800%.[48] Formerly incarcerated Black women are also most negatively impacted by the collateral legal consequences of conviction.[49]

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, "Even when women have minimal or no involvement in the drug trade, they are increasingly caught in the ever-widening net cast by current drug laws, through provisions of the criminal law such as those involving conspiracy, accomplice liability, and constructive possession that expand criminal liability to reach partners, relatives and bystanders."[50]

These new policies also disproportionately affect African-American women. According to Dorothy E. Roberts, the explanation is that poor women, who are disproportionately black, are more likely to be placed under constant supervision by the State in order to receive social services.[51] They are then more likely to be caught by officials who are instructed to look specifically for drug offenses. Roberts argues that the criminal justice system's creation of new crimes has a direct effect on the number of women, especially black women, who then become incarcerated.


One of the first laws in the U.S. against drugs was the Opium Exclusion Act of 1909. It prohibited the smoking of opium, which was ingested but not smoked by a substantial portion of Caucasian housewives in America. It was smoked mainly by Asian American immigrants coming to build the railroads. These immigrants were targeted with anti-Asian sentiment, as many voters believed they were losing jobs to Asian immigrants.

This pattern was repeated in the late twentieth century with higher penalties for crack cocaine than powder. Crack was consumed primarily by African Americans, while powder was consumed more by the white middle-class. The substantial penalties for crack contributed to the five-fold increase in incarcerations seen in the plot above. For instance, the disproportionate number of African Americans compared to other racial groups in the United States that are arrested or incarcerated. Figures from 2008 offer a better illustration of the situation with 28% of arrests involving African Americans and African American men comprising almost half of the current incarcerated population in the United States.[52]

Disproportional incarceration of black people

Presently, the majority of people sentenced to prison in the United States are Black, and almost one-third of Black men in their twenties are either on parole, on probation, or in prison.[53] Currently, the U.S. is at its highest rate of imprisonment in history.[54] Young Black men are experiencing the highest levels of incarceration. These disproportionate levels of imprisonment have made incarceration a normalized occurrence for African-American communities. This has caused a distrust from Black individuals towards aspects of the legal system such as police, courts, and heavy sentences[53]. In 2011, more than 580,000 Black men and women were in state or federal prison.[55] Black men and women are imprisoned at higher rates compared to all other age groups, with the highest rate being Black men aged 25 to 39. In 2001, almost 17% of Black men had previously been imprisoned in comparison to 2.6% of White men. By the end of 2002, of the two million inmates of the U.S. incarceration system, Black men surpassed the number of White men (586,700 to 436,800 respectively of inmates with sentences more than one year).[53] In the same year, there were also more Black women behind bars than White women (36,000 to 35,400). African-Americans are about eight times more likely to be imprisoned than Whites. The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization, released in 1990 that almost one in four Black men in the U.S. between the ages of 20 and 29 were under some degree of control by the criminal justice system. In 1995, the organization announced that the rate had increased to one in three. In the same year, the non-profit stated that more than half of young Black men were then under criminal supervision in both D.C. and Baltimore. In addition, African-American women are the largest growing incarcerated population.

The War on Drugs plays a role in the disproportionate amount of incarcerated African-Americans.[53] Despite a general decline in crime, the massive increase in new inmates due to drug offenses ensured historically high incarceration rates during the 1990s and beyond, with New York City serving as an example. Drug-related arrests continued to increase in the city despite a near 50% drop in felony crimes. While White individuals have a higher rate of drug use, 60% of people imprisoned for drug charges in 1998 were Black. Drug crimes constituted 27% of the increase in the number of Black state prisoners in the 1990s, while Whites experienced a 14% increase. The rise in African-American imprisonment as a result of newer drug crimes has been justified for its alleged societal benefits. Law officials and advocates of these policies argue that targeting underserved, primarily inner-city neighborhoods is appropriate because these areas see the more harmful and violent effects of drug use. These same individuals further point to the negative effects drug distribution has on these areas to support the inequity in how crimes involving, for example, powdered cocaine can be treated with less severity than crack cocaine. This ideology results in a greater number of arrests of poor, inner-city Black individuals.

A significant contributing factor to these figures are the racially and economically segregated neighborhoods that account for the majority of the Black prison population. These neighborhoods are normally impoverished and possess a high minority population. For example, as many as one in eight adult males who inhabit these urban areas is sent to prison each year, and one in four of these men is in prison on any given day. A 1992 study revealed that 72% of all New York State’s prisoners came from only 7 of New York City’s 55 community board districts. Many recently-released individuals return to the area they lived in prior to incarceration. Also in New York City, rates of incarceration stayed the same or grew in 1996 in neighborhoods that had the highest rates in 1990. Additionally, in these same neighborhoods, there was a stronger police presence and parole surveillance despite a period of a general decline in crime.

Finding employment post-release is a significant struggle for African-Americans.[54] American sociologist Devah Pager performed a study to prove this. She assembled pairs of fake job seekers to find jobs with résumés that portrayed the applicant had a criminal record. The findings indicated that the presence of a criminal record reduced callbacks by approximately 50%. This was more common for African-Americans than for Whites.

High prevalence of incarceration among black men who have sex with men

There is a 31% incarceration history for Black men who have sex with men (BMSM).[55] Relating to HIV, Black individuals consisted of almost half (44%) of all new HIV infections in 2010. They also constituted almost half of all Americans living with HIV in the same year as well. The HIV Prevention Trials Network discovered that the odds of incarceration are greater among Black transgender women compared to other BMSM. Incarceration is also higher among BMSM aged 35 or older compared to younger populations, and is more prevalent among BMSM who identify as heterosexual or straight. Lastly, the odds of being imprisoned are greater among BMSM who were born in the U.S.

In terms of psychosocial analyses, rates of incarceration are higher for those from a particular city (the greatest odds are being from Los Angeles). Other important factors that predict prison enrollment are a history of childhood violence, early sexual experience, two or more male partners, unprotected receptive anal intercourse (URAI) six months before enrollment in this particular HIV Prevention Trials Network study, drug use, alcohol use, low support, and clinically depressive symptoms.

Prison privatization

In the 1980s, the rising number of people incarcerated as a result of the War on Drugs and the wave of privatization that occurred under the Reagan Administration saw the emergence of the for-profit prison industry. Prior to the 1980s, private prisons did not exist in the US.[56][57][58]

In a 2011 report by the ACLU, it is claimed that the rise of the for-profit prison industry is a "major contributor" to "mass incarceration," along with bloated state budgets.[59] Louisiana, for example, has the highest rate of incarceration in the world with the majority of its prisoners being housed in privatized, for-profit facilities. Such institutions could face bankruptcy without a steady influx of prisoners.[60] A 2013 Bloomberg report states that in the past decade the number of inmates in for-profit prisons throughout the U.S. rose 44 percent.[61]

Corporations who operate prisons, such as the Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group, spend significant amounts of money lobbying the federal government along with state governments.[59] The two aforementioned companies, the largest in the industry, have been contributors to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which seeks to expand the privatization of corrections and lobbies for policies that would increase incarceration, such as three-strike laws and "truth-in-sentencing" legislation.[62][63][64][65][66][67] Prison companies also sign contracts with states that guarantee at least 90 percent of prison beds be filled. If these "lockup quotas" aren't met, the state must reimburse the prison company for the unused beds. Prison companies use the profits to expand and put pressure on lawmakers to incarcerate a certain number of people.[68][69] This influence on the government by the private prison industry has been referred to as the Prison–industrial complex.[64]

The industry is well aware of what reduced crime rates could mean to their bottom line. This from the CCA's SEC report in 2010:

Our growth … depends on a number of factors we cannot control, including crime rates … [R]eductions in crime rates … could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.[59]

Editorial policies of major media

Gallup polling since 1989 has found that in most years in which there was a decline in the U.S. crime rate, a majority of Americans said that violent crime was getting worse.[70][71][72]

A substantial body of research claims that incarceration rates are primarily a function of media editorial policies, largely unrelated to the actual crime rate. Constructing Crime: Perspectives on Making News and Social Problems is a book collecting together papers on this theme.[73] The researchers say that the jump in incarceration rate from 0.1% to 0.5% of the United States population from 1975 to 2000 (documented in the figure above) was driven by changes in the editorial policies of the mainstream commercial media and is unrelated to any actual changes in crime. Media consolidation reduced competition on content. That allowed media company executives to maintain substantially the same audience while slashing budgets for investigative journalism and filling the space from the police blotter, which tended to increase and stabilize advertising revenue. It is safer, easier and cheaper to write about crimes committed by poor people than the wealthy. Poor people can be libeled with impunity, but major advertisers can materially impact the profitability of a commercial media organization by reducing their purchases of advertising space with that organization.

News media thrive on feeding frenzies (such as missing white women) because they tend to reduce production costs while simultaneously building an audience interested in the latest development in a particular story. It takes a long time for a reporter to learn enough to write intelligently about a specific issue. Once a reporter has achieved that level of knowledge, it is easier to write subsequent stories. However, major advertisers have been known to spend their advertising budgets through different channels when they dislike the editorial policies. Therefore, a media feeding frenzy focusing on an issue of concern to an advertiser may reduce revenue and profits.[74]

Sacco described how "competing news organizations responded to each other's coverage [while] the police, in their role as gatekeepers of crime news, reacted to the increased media interest by making available more stories that reflected and reinforced" a particular theme. "[T]he dynamics of competitive journalism created a media feeding frenzy that found news workers 'snatching at shocking numbers' and 'smothering reports of stable or decreasing use under more ominous headlines.'"[75]

The reasons cited above for increased incarcerations (US racial demographics, Increased sentencing laws, and Drug sentencing laws) have been described as consequences of the shift in editorial policies of the mainstream media.[76]

Additionally, media coverage has been proven to have a profound impact on criminal sentencing. A study conducted found that the more media attention a criminal case is given, the greater the incentive for prosecutors and judges to pursue harsher sentences. This is directly linked to the enormous increase in media coverage of crime over the past two decades. While crime decreased by 8% between 1992 and 2002, news reports on crime increased by 800% and the average prison sentence length increased by 2,000% for all crimes. Less media coverage means a greater chance of a lighter sentence or that the defendant may avoid prison time entirely.

Citizenship statistics

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 80.7% of Federal inmates are U.S. citizens (as of November 2018). 12.1% are citizens of Mexico, and the next three countries—Colombia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, contribute less than 1% each. 4.9% have other or unknown citizenship. The Bureau did not state how many had come to the U.S. legally.[77]

See also


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  76. ^ See also Sacco, Vincent F (2005). When Crime Waves. Sage. ISBN 978-0761927839. and Youngblood, Steven (2017). Peace Journalism Principles and Practices. Routledge. pp. 115–131. ISBN 978-1-138-12467-7.
  77. ^ "BOP Statistics: Inmate Citizenship". Federal Bureau of Prisons.


External links

Cannabis policy of the Ronald Reagan administration

The cannabis policy of the Reagan administration involved affirmation of the War on Drugs, government funded anti-cannabis media campaigns, expanded funding for law enforcement, involvement of the U.S. military in interdiction and eradication, reduction in emphasis in drug treatment, and creation of new Federal powers to test employees and seize cannabis-related assets.

Comparison of United States incarceration rate with other countries

The United States has the highest prison and jail population (2,121,600 in adult facilities in 2016), and the highest incarceration rate in the world (655 per 100,000 population in 2016). According to the World Prison Population List (11th edition) there were around 10.35 million people in penal institutions worldwide in 2015. The US had 2,173,800 prisoners in adult facilities in 2015. That means the US held 21.0% of the world's prisoners in 2015, even though the US represented only around 4.4 percent of the world's population in 2015.Comparing other English-speaking developed countries, whereas the incarceration rate of the US is 655 per 100,000 population of all ages, the incarceration rate of Canada is 114 per 100,000 (as of 2015), England and Wales is 146 per 100,000 (as of 2016), and Australia is 160 per 100,000 (as of 2016). Comparing other developed countries, the rate of Spain is 133 per 100,000 (as of 2016), Greece is 89 per 100,000 (as of 2016), Norway is 73 per 100,000 (as of 2016), Netherlands is 69 per 100,000 (as of 2014), and Japan is 48 per 100,000 (as of 2014).Comparing other countries with similar percentages of immigrants, Germany has a rate of 78 per 100,000 (as of 2017), Italy is 96 per 100,000 (as of 2018), and Saudi Arabia is 197 per 100,000 (as of 2017). Comparing other countries with a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs, the rate of Russia is 411 per 100,000 (as of 2018), Kazakhstan is 194 per 100,000 (as of 2018), Singapore is 201 per 100,000 (as of 2017), and Sweden is 57 per 100,000 (as of 2016).The incarceration rate of the People's Republic of China varies depending on sources and measures. According to the World Prison Brief, the rate for only sentenced prisoners is 118 per 100,000 (as of 2015). The rate for prisoners including estimations for the number of pre-trial detainees and those in administrative detention is 164 per 100,000 (as of 2015). In a 2010 interview Harry Wu, a U.S.-based human rights activist and ex-Chinese labor camp prisoner, estimates that "in the last 60 years, more than 40–50 million people" were in Chinese labor camps, but that period includes the mass incarcerations of the 1950s or the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and is not representative of modern China.

Defy Ventures

Defy Ventures is a United States-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2010. The organization's goal is to address the social problems of mass incarceration, recidivism, and related issues by providing well-being, entrepreneurship, employment, and personal development training programs to individuals with criminal histories.

Fascination with death

Fascination with death has occurred throughout human history, characterized by obsessions with death and all things related to death and the afterlife.

In past times, people would form cults around death and figures. Famously, Anubis, Osiris, Hades, and La Santa Muerte have all had large cult followings. La Santa Muerte (Saint Death), or the personification of death, is currently worshiped by many in Mexico and other countries in Central America. Day of the Dead (2 November) is a celebration for the dead.

Health Effects from Incarceration of Indigenous Australians

The Australian prisoner population currently retains 22% of indigenous prisoners. Western Australia was the first state to experience a dramatic rise in indigenous imprisonment in 1841. Incarceration can lead to multiple negative health effects on the individual. These negative effects have been well researched and include mental health and wellbeing complications, grief and loss, violence and the need for family and community. Juvenile Incarceration has rapidly increased over the last 15 years, which causes complications on youth mental and physical growth.

Incarceration in the United States

Incarceration in the United States is one of the main forms of punishment and rehabilitation for the commission of felony and other offenses. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the highest per-capita incarceration rate. In 2016 in the US, there were 655 people incarcerated per 100,000 population. This is the US incarceration rate for adults or people tried as adults. In 2016, 2.2 million Americans have been incarcerated, which means for every 100,000 there are 655 that are currently inmates. This costs the United States government $80 billion dollars a year.

Additionally, 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (1 in 51) were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,899,000 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2013 – about 2.8% of adults (1 in 35) in the U.S. resident population. In 2014, the total number of persons in the adult correctional systems had fallen to 6,851,000 persons, approximately 52,200 fewer offenders than at the year-end of 2013 as reported by the BJS. About 1 in 36 adults (or 2.8% of adults in the US) were under some form of correctional supervision – the lowest rate since 1996. On average, the correctional population has declined by 1.0% since 2007; while this continued to stay true in 2014 the number of incarcerated adults slightly increased in 2014. In 2016, the total number of persons in U.S. adult correctional systems was an estimated 6,613,500. From 2007 to 2016, the correctional population decreased by an average of 1.2% annually. By the end of 2016, approximately 1 in 38 persons in the United States were under correctional supervision.In addition, there were 54,148 juveniles in juvenile detention in 2013.Although debtor's prisons no longer exist in the United States, residents of some U.S. states can still be incarcerated for debt as of 2016. The Vera Institute of Justice reported in 2015 that majority of those incarcerated in local and county jails are there for minor violations, and have been jailed for longer periods of time over the past 30 years because they are unable to pay court-imposed costs.According to a 2014 Human Rights Watch report, "tough-on-crime" laws adopted since the 1980s, have filled U.S. prisons with mostly nonviolent offenders. However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that, as of the end of 2015, 54% of state prisoners sentenced to

more than 1 year were serving time for a violent offense. Fifteen percent of state prisoners at year-end 2015

had been convicted of a drug offense as their most serious. In comparison, 47% of federal prisoners serving

time in September 2016 (the most recent date for which data are available) were convicted of a drug offense. This policy failed to rehabilitate prisoners and many were worse on release than before incarceration. Rehabilitation programs for offenders can be more cost effective than prison. According to a 2015 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, falling crime rates cannot be ascribed to mass incarceration. Conversely, Steven Levitt asserted in a 2004 paper that, among other factors that also affected the crime rate, approximately one third of the observed crime drop in the 1990s was due to incarceration.

List of U.S. states by incarceration and correctional supervision rate

This article has lists of U.S. states by adult incarceration and correctional supervision rates according to United States Department of Justice figures. The state incarceration numbers include sentenced and unsentenced inmates in jails and state prisons, but not persons in federal prisons. They are listed separately. The state numbers also do not include youth held in juvenile detention.

List of countries by incarceration rate

This is a list of countries by incarceration rate.

Mentally ill people in United States jails and prisons

Mentally ill people are overrepresented in United States jail and prison populations relative to the general population. There are three times more seriously mentally ill persons in jails and prisons than in hospitals in the United States. The exact cause of this overrepresentation is disputed by scholars; proposed causes include the deinstitutionalization of mentally ill individuals in the mid-twentieth century; inadequate community mental health treatment resources; and the criminalization of mental illness itself. The majority of prisons in the United States employ a psychiatrist and a psychologist. While much research claims mentally ill offenders have comparable rates of recidivism to non-mentally ill offenders, other research claims that mentally ill offenders have higher rates of recidivism. Mentally ill people experience solitary confinement at disproportionate rates and are more vulnerable to its adverse psychological effects. Twenty-five states have laws addressing the emergency detention of the mentally ill within jails, and the United States Supreme Court has upheld the right of inmates to mental health treatment.

Michael Stoll

Michael A. Stoll is an American economist and professor of public policy in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also a fellow at the American Institutes for Research, the Brookings Institution, the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is known for his research on incarceration in the United States, including the 2013 book Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?, co-authored with Steven Raphael. The book argues, among other things, that the United States' incarceration rate is so high mainly because of changes in crime policy, not crime rates. His work on this topic was cited by the Obama administration in an April 2016 report on criminal justice reform. He has also studied migration within the United States by Americans in general and American retirees specifically.


Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism is the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism. While it is most often associated with such ideas, the defining features of neoliberalism in both thought and practice have been the subject of substantial scholarly discourse. These ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. These market-based ideas and the policies they inspired constitute a paradigm shift away from the post-war Keynesian consensus which lasted from 1945 to 1980.English-speakers have used the term "neoliberalism" since the start of the 20th century with different meanings, but it became more prevalent in its current meaning in the 1970s and 1980s, used by scholars in a wide variety of social sciences as well as by critics. Modern advocates of free market policies avoid the term "neoliberal" and some scholars have described the term as meaning different things to different people as neoliberalism "mutated" into geopolitically distinct hybrids as it travelled around the world. As such, neoliberalism shares many attributes with other concepts that have contested meanings, including democracy.The definition and usage of the term have changed over time. As an economic philosophy, neoliberalism emerged among European liberal scholars in the 1930s as they attempted to trace a so-called "third" or "middle" way between the conflicting philosophies of classical liberalism and socialist planning. The impetus for this development arose from a desire to avoid repeating the economic failures of the early 1930s, which neoliberals mostly blamed on the economic policy of classical liberalism. In the decades that followed, the use of the term "neoliberal" tended to refer to theories which diverged from the more laissez-faire doctrine of classical liberalism and which promoted instead a market economy under the guidance and rules of a strong state, a model which came to be known as the social market economy.

In the 1960s, usage of the term "neoliberal" heavily declined. When the term re-appeared in the 1980s in connection with Augusto Pinochet's economic reforms in Chile, the usage of the term had shifted. It had not only become a term with negative connotations employed principally by critics of market reform, but it also had shifted in meaning from a moderate form of liberalism to a more radical and laissez-faire capitalist set of ideas. Scholars now tended to associate it with the theories of Mont Pelerin Society economists Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and James M. Buchanan, along with politicians and policy-makers such as Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan. Once the new meaning of neoliberalism became established as a common usage among Spanish-speaking scholars, it diffused into the English-language study of political economy. By 1994, with the passage of NAFTA and with the Zapatistas' reaction to this development in Chiapas, the term entered global circulation. Scholarship on the phenomenon of neoliberalism has been growing over the last couple of decades.

Prisoner reentry

Prisoner reentry is the process by which prisoners who have been released return to the community. Many types of programs have been implemented with the goal of reducing recidivism; from 2001 to 2004, the United States' federal government allocated over $100 million for reentry programs. Many such programs have been found to be effective for this purpose. Other reentry programs focus on improving health among ex-prisoners, which tends to be significantly worse than that of people who have never been imprisoned. A 2001 study found that these programs were generally inadequate, with a few exceptions.The "Returning Home Study" conducted by the Urban Institute from 2001 to 2006 found that ex-prisoners who worked before imprisonment, and those who find employment soon after release, are less likely to be reincarcerated within a year of release. The same study found that releasing prisoners to parole supervision both reduces the likelihood that they will engage in substance use and makes it easier for them to find employment after release.A 2015 article from the New York Times Magazine commented, "It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that this looming 'prisoner re-entry crisis' became a fixation of sociologists and policy makers, generating a torrent of research, government programs, task forces, nonprofit initiatives and conferences now known as the 're-entry movement'."

Prison–industrial complex

The term "prison–industrial complex" (PIC), derived from the "military–industrial complex" of the 1950s, describes the attribution of the rapid expansion of the US inmate population to the political influence of private prison companies and businesses that supply goods and services to government prison agencies for profit. The most common agents of PIC are corporations that contract cheap prison labor, construction companies, surveillance technology vendors, companies that operate prison food services and medical facilities, prison guard unions, private probation companies, lawyers, and lobby groups that represent them.

The portrayal of prison-building/expansion as a means of creating employment opportunities and the utilization of inmate labor are particularly harmful elements of the prison-industrial complex as they boast clear economic benefits at the expense of the incarcerated populace. The term also refers to the network of participants who prioritize personal financial gain over rehabilitating criminals. Proponents of this view, including civil rights organizations such as the Rutherford Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), believe that the desire for monetary gain through prison privatization has led to the growth of the prison industry and contributed to the increase of incarcerated individuals. These advocacy groups assert that incentivizing the construction of more prisons for monetary gain will encourage incarceration, which would affect people of color at disproportionately high rates.

Race and the War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is a term for the actions taken and legislation enacted by the United States government, intended to reduce or eliminate the production, distribution, and use of illicit drugs. The War on Drugs began during the Nixon Administration with the goal of reducing the supply of and demand for illegal drugs, though an ulterior, racial motivation has been proposed. The War on Drugs has led to controversial legislation and policies, including mandatory minimum penalties and stop-and-frisk searches, which have been suggested to be carried out disproportionately against minorities. The effects of the War on Drugs are contentious, with some suggesting that it has created racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, imprisonment and rehabilitation. Others have criticized the methodology and conclusions of such studies. In addition to enforcement disparities, some claim that the collateral effects of the War on Drugs have established forms of structural violence, especially for minority communities.

Racial bias in criminal news in the United States

Racial biases are a form of implicit bias, which refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect an individual's understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass unfavorable assessments, are often activated involuntarily and without the awareness or intentional control of the individual. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Police officers come from all walks of life and they too have implicit bias, regardless of their ethnicity. Racial bias in criminal news reporting in the United States is a manifestation of this bias.


Recidivism (; from recidive and ism, from Latin recidīvus "recurring", from re- "back" and cadō "I fall") is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been trained to extinguish that behavior. It is also used to refer to the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested for a similar offense.The term is frequently used in conjunction with criminal behavior and substance abuse. (Recidivism is a synonym for "relapse", which is more commonly used in medicine and in the disease model of addiction.) For example, scientific literature may refer to the recidivism of sexual offenders, meaning the frequency with which they are detected or apprehended committing additional sexual crimes after being released from prison for similar crimes.

Ronald Rodgers

Ronald Rodgers was the United States Pardon Attorney. He was appointed to the post in April 2008. The main duty of the Pardon Attorney is to receive, review and investigate applications that have been forwarded to his office and then tender his recommendations to the Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He was removed from office on April 22, 2014, following criticism of his handling of Clarence Aaron's petition for clemency.

War on drugs

The war on drugs is a campaign, led by the U.S. federal government, of drug prohibition, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade in the United States. The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. The term was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by President Richard Nixon—the day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control—during which he declared drug abuse "public enemy number one". That message to the Congress included text about devoting more federal resources to the "prevention of new addicts, and the rehabilitation of those who are addicted", but that part did not receive the same public attention as the term "war on drugs". However, two years prior to this, Nixon had formally declared a "war on drugs" that would be directed toward eradication, interdiction, and incarceration. Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.On May 13, 2009, Gil Kerlikowske—the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)—signaled that the Obama administration did not plan to significantly alter drug enforcement policy, but also that the administration would not use the term "War on Drugs", because Kerlikowske considers the term to be "counter-productive". ONDCP's view is that "drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated... making drugs more available will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe".In June 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a critical report on the War on Drugs, declaring: "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government's war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed." The report was criticized by organizations that oppose a general legalization of drugs.

William Barr

William Pelham Barr (born May 23, 1950) is a two-time United States Attorney General. He was appointed by Donald Trump as the 85th Attorney General, and has served in that role since February 14, 2019. He had previously served in the position from 1991 to 1993, in the administration of George H. W. Bush. Before becoming Attorney General the first time, Barr held numerous other posts within the Department of Justice, including serving as Deputy Attorney General from 1990 to 1991. Barr is a longtime proponent of the unitary executive theory of unfettered presidential authority. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Corrections by States
Corrections by Federal district
Corrections by Insular areas
Military prisons
State prisons
See also
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Corrections by States
Corrections by Federal district
Corrections by Insular areas
Military facilities
Social issues
Leaving prison
By country

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