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April 25, 2005

The ever-growing prison population

Thanks to TalkLeft's post here, I see that the government has released "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2004," which provides the latest official figures on state and federal incarceration rates, updated through June 30, 2004.  (The full report on "Prisoners in 2003" is discussed here.)

As this AP story details, the report reveals that the US prison and jail population grew "at a rate of about 900 inmates each week between mid-2003 and mid-2004, [and] the nation's prisons and jails held 2.1 million people, or one in every 138 U.S. residents."  Both this official DOJ press release and the full report are full of fascinating (and mostly depressing) data tidbits.

Though many facts in this latest report merit discussion, consider this interesting state/federal comparison from the report:

Federal system growth continues to outpace that of States

The rate of growth of the State prison population slowed between 1995 and 2001 and then began to rise. During this time, the percentage change in the first 6 months of each year steadily decreased, reaching a low of 0.6% in 2001, and then rose to 1.5% in 2004 (table 2). The percentage change in the second 6 months of each year showed a similar trend, resulting in an actual decrease in State prison populations for the second half of 2000 and 2001.

Since 1995 the Federal system has grown at a much higher rate than the States, peaking at 6% growth in the first 6 months of 1999. In the first 6 months of 2004, the number of Federal inmates increased 3.6% (more than twice the rate of State growth).

April 25, 2005 at 08:10 AM | Permalink


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I'm glad that there are statistics for this, but is anyone surpised? The Feds have all the tools they need to incarcerate both the guilty and the innocent, and they use them regularly.

Posted by: bob | Apr 25, 2005 12:56:26 PM

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