Prisons, Jails, and the Corrections System: Overview

1. Number of People Serving Time in State and Federal Prisons in the US

"The number of prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction at year-end 2017 (1,489,400) decreased 8% (down 126,100 prisoners) from 2009, when the
U.S. prison population peaked at 1,615,500 (table 1). Federal prisoners made up 12% of the total U.S. prison population at year-end 2017 and accounted for 33% of the decline in the total prison population. The number of federal prisoners decreased from 189,200 at year-end 2016 to 183,100 at year-end 2017. This was the fifth consecutive year of population decline among federal prisoners.

"States held 1,306,300 prisoners at year-end 2017, which was down 1% (12,600) from year-end 2016. A total of 29 states showed decreases in year-end prison populations from 2016 to 2017 (table 2). The states with the largest declines in prisoners were Illinois (down 2,200), Louisiana (down 1,900), and Oklahoma (down 1,800). Of the 20 states that showed increases in prison populations from 2016, the states with the largest increases were California (up 960), Tennessee (up 780), and North Carolina (up 697). Maine had the same number of prisoners (2,404) at year-end 2016 as at year-end 2017."

Jennifer Bronson, PhD, and E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2017. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2019, NCJ252156, p. 3.
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2. Imprisonment Rates In The US By Age And Gender

"There were 440 prisoners sentenced to more than one year in state or federal prison per 100,000 U.S. residents on December 31, 2017, the lowest rate since 1997 (444 per 100,000) (table 5; see figure 1). Among U.S. residents age 18 or older, 568 in 100,000 were imprisoned on a sentence of more than one year at year-end 2017. At that time, 1.1% of adult males living in the United States (1,082 in 100,000) were serving a sentence of more than one year, representing a 2% decrease from year-end 2016 (1,108 in 100,000). The imprisonment rate for females also declined during that period, from 64 to 63 per 100,000 female U.S. residents of all ages and from 82 to 81 per 100,000 female U.S. residents age 18 or older.

"Broken down by state and federal rates, the imprisonment rate for sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents was 390 under state jurisdiction and 51 under federal jurisdiction. At year-end 2017, a total of 22 states had imprisonment rates that were higher than the nationwide average for all states. Louisiana had the highest rate (719 per 100,000 state residents), followed by Oklahoma (704 per 100,000) and Mississippi (619 per 100,000) (table 6).

"The imprisonment rate for females was highest in Oklahoma (157 per 100,000 female state residents), followed by Kentucky (133 per 100,000), South Dakota (124 per 100,000), and Idaho (114 per 100,000). More than 1% of all male residents in six states were in prison on December 31, 2017: Louisiana (1,387 per 100,000 male state residents), Oklahoma (1,262 per 100,000), Mississippi (1,189 per 100,000), Arkansas (1,122 per 100,000), Arizona (1,039 per 100,000), and Texas (1,022 per 100,000)."

Jennifer Bronson, PhD, and E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2017. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2019, NCJ252156, pp. 9-10.
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3. Number of People Serving Time in Jails in the US

"County and city jails in the United States held 738,400 inmates at midyear 2018 (table 1), a decline of 6% from 785,500 inmates held in 2008. Te midyear population remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2018. At midyear 2018, about one-third of jail inmates (248,500) were sentenced or awaiting sentencing on a conviction, while about two-thirds (490,000) were awaiting court action on a current charge or were held for other reasons.

"Over the 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, the rate of incarceration in local jails dropped by 12%, from 258 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents to 226 per 100,000 (fgure 1). During this period, the jail incarceration rate increased by 12% for whites and declined by about 30% for blacks (28%) and Hispanics (33%)."

Zhen Zeng, PhD. Jail Inmates in 2018. Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Dept. of Justice. March 2020. NCJ253044.
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4. Number of Adults Under Correctional Supervision in the US

"The decline in the U.S. correctional population from January 1, 2016 (6,676,200 persons), to December 31, 2016 (6,613,500), continued a downward trend that began in 2008 (table 1). Persons supervised in the community on either probation (3,673,100 persons) or parole (874,800) continued to account for the majority of the U.S. correctional population at year-end 2016. Nearly 7 in 10 persons under correctional supervision were supervised in the community (4,537,100) on December 31, 2016, and 3 in 10 (2,162,400) were incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails.1

"The 0.9% decrease in the correctional population from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2016, was due to a 1.1% decline in the number of persons supervised in the community and a 0.5% decline in the incarcerated population. The decrease in the community supervision population during 2016 accounted for nearly 80% of the decline in the total correctional population. The number of persons under supervision in the community decreased by 49,800 from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2016, to 4,537,100. During 2016, the probation population decreased by 1.4%, while the parole population increased by 0.5%, resulting in an overall decline in the community supervision population. From 2007 to 2016, the community supervision population decreased by an annual average of 1.3%. At year-end 2016, the number of persons under community supervision was the lowest observed since 1999 (4,485,300) (not shown).

"On December 31, 2016, an estimated 2,162,400 persons were either under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails—10,400 fewer persons than in 2015. By year-end 2016, the number of persons incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails fell to the lowest level observed since 2004 (2,136,600) (not shown).

"During 2016, the prison population decreased 1.4%, while the jail population remained relatively stable. The U.S. prison population on December 31, 2016 (1,505,400), was at its lowest level since 2004 (1,497,100) (not shown). The total incarcerated population in 2016 was 0.5% lower than in 2015."

Danielle Kaeble and Mary Cowhig, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2018), NCJ250374, pp. 2-3.
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5. Total Number of Adults Incarcerated in US Prisons and Jails

"On December 31, 2016, an estimated 2,162,400 persons were either under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails—10,400 fewer persons than in 2015. By year-end 2016, the number of persons incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails fell to the lowest level observed since 2004 (2,136,600) (not shown).
"During 2016, the prison population decreased 1.4%, while the jail population remained relatively stable. The U.S. prison population on December 31, 2016 (1,505,400), was at its lowest level since 2004 (1,497,100) (not shown). The total incarcerated population in 2016 was 0.5% lower than in 2015."

Danielle Kaeble and Mary Cowhig, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2018), NCJ250374, p. 3.
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6. Correctional Supervision Rate for Adults in the US

"After peaking at 3,210 offenders per 100,000 U.S. residents age 18 or older in 2007, the correctional supervision rate trended downward, falling to a low of 2,640 per 100,000 by year-end 2016 (table 4). The percentage of adults supervised by U.S. correctional system was lower in 2016 than at any time since 1993 (2,550 per 100,000) (not shown). Both the change in the correctional population and change in the U.S population had an impact on the rate. More than half (53%) of the decrease in the correctional supervision rate from 2007 to 2016 was attributed to the decrease in the number of offenders under correctional supervision (not shown). The remaining 47% resulted from the increase in the U.S. resident population age 18 or older from 2007 to 2015, which is used to calculate the rates. By year-end 2016, the correctional supervision rate fell to the lowest rate since 1993 (2,550 per 100,000), when almost 1.9 million fewer persons were supervised by U.S. adult correctional systems (not shown).

"On December 31, 2016, 1,810 offenders per 100,000 U.S. adult residents were on probation or parole. This was the same rate as in 1992 when the community supervision population was smaller by about 1.1 million offenders and the U.S. resident population was smaller by about 63 million people (not shown). The community corrections rate has declined for nine consecutive years since reaching a high in 2007 (2,240 per 100,000).

"In 2016, 860 persons per 100,000 U.S. adult residents were under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails. The incarceration rate has declined since 2009 (980 per 100,000) after reaching a high of 1,000 per 100,000 U.S. adult residents from 2006 to 2008. The incarceration rate had declined since 2009 and is currently at its lowest rate since 1996 (830 per 100,000) (not shown)."

Danielle Kaeble and Mary Cowhig, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2018), NCJ250374, p. 4.
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7. Total Number of Adults Supervised by the US Correctional System, 2000, 2005, and 2010-2015

In 2015, a total of 6,741,400 adults were under the supervision of the US adult correctional system. Of those, 4,650,900 were under community supervision, of which 3,789,800 were on probation and 870,500 were on parole. A total of 2,173,800 adults were incarcerated in 2015, of whom 728,800 were in jails and 1,526,800 were in prisons.

Click here for the complete data table.

Danielle Kaeble and Lauren Glaze, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2015," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2016), NCJ250374, Table 1, p. 2.
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Danielle Kaeble, Lauren Glaze, Anastasios Tsoutis, and Todd Minton, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2014," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2015, Revised January 21, 2016), NCJ249513, Table 1, p. 2.
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Lauren E. Glaze and Danielle Kaeble, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2014), NCJ248479, Table 1, p. 2.
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8. Estimated rate of persons supervised by US adult correctional systems, by correctional status, 2000 and 2005–2015

In 2015, the US adult correctional system had under its supervision one in every 37 US adults, which is a rate of 2,710 people under supervision per 100,000 US residents aged 18 or older. More broadly, that's a rate of 2,090 per 100,000 US residents of all ages.
The rate for the population on community supervision, i.e. probation and parole, in 2015 was 1,870 per 100,000 US residents aged 18 or older, and 1,440 per 100,000 US residents of all ages.
The rate for the incarcerated population, in jails and prisons, in 2015 was 870 per 100,000 US residents aged 18 or older, and 670 per 100,000 US residents of all ages.

Click this link to open the complete data table.

Danielle Kaeble and Lauren Glaze, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2015," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2016), NCJ250374, Table 4, p. 4.
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9. Number of people held in US State or Federal Prisons or in Local Jails, by Type of Facility, 2000 and 2007-2016

In 2016, there were 2,157,800 people behind bars in the US. This includes state and federal prisons as well as local and county jails. Of these, 188,300 people were federal prisoners, and 1,288,800 were state prisoners, and local jails held a total of 740,700 people. The incarceration rate in 2016 was 670 people per 100,000 US residents of all ages. The adult incarceration rate in 2016 was 870 people per 100,000 US residents aged 18 or older.

Click here for the complete data table for 2000 and 2007-2016.

Danielle Kaeble and Mary Cowhig, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2018), NCJ250374, p. 3.
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10. US Imprisonment Rates by Race

"Between year-end 2015 and year-end 2016, the rate of imprisonment for black adults decreased 4% (from 1,670 per 100,000 in 2015 to 1,608 per 100,000 in 2016) (figure 2). The imprisonment rate declined 29% since 2006 (2,261 per 100,000). The rate for white adults decreased 2% between 2015 (281 per 100,000) and 2016 (274 per 100,000), and it declined 15% during the past decade (324 per 100,000 in 2006). The imprisonment rate for Hispanic adults decreased 1%, from 862 per 100,000 in 2015 to 856 in 2016. Since 2006, the imprisonment rate for Hispanics declined 20% (1,073 per 100,000 in 2006)."

E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2016. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, January 2018, NCJ251149, p. 10.
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11. Jail Inmate Population in the US by Gender and Race/Ethnicity at Yearend 2016

"Non-Hispanic blacks (599 per 100,000 black U.S. residents) had the highest jail incarceration rate at year-end 2016, followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (359 per 100,000 AIAN residents). Non-Hispanic whites (171 per 100,000 white residents) and Hispanics (185 per 100,000 Hispanic residents) were incarcerated at a similar rate at year-end 2016. Among non-Hispanics in 2016, blacks were incarcerated in jail at a rate 3.5 times that of whites, down from 5.6 times the rate in 2000.

"At year-end 2016, an estimated 85% of the jail population were male (table 3). Juveniles (those age 17 or younger) made up of 0.5% of the inmates held in local jails, down from 1.2% in 2000.

"White non-Hispanic inmates accounted for 48% of the jail population in 2016, up from 42% in 2000. In comparison, the percentage of black non-Hispanic inmates declined from 41% in 2000 to 34% in 2016. Hispanics represented 15% of the jail population in both 2000 and 2016. American Indian or Alaska Native inmates and Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Other Pacific Islander inmates each represented about 1% of the jail population."

There were 704,500 people confined in local jails on December 31, 2016, of whom 602,200 were male and 102,300 were female. Juveniles held as adults numbered 3,000, plus an additional 700 juveniles who were held as juveniles. Racial demographics were as follows: white, 338,700; black/African-American, 242,200; Latinx, 107,200; American Indian/Alaska native: 8,600; Asian/native Hawaiian/other Pacific islander: 5,600; two or more races: 2,100. Only 245,900 people confined to a local jail had been convicted of any crimes and had either already been sentenced or were awaiting sentencing. The remaining 458,600 people confined to local jails were unconvicted and awaiting court action on a current charge.

Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2016," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Feb. 2018), NCJ251210, pp. 3-4 and p. 8, Appendix Table 1.
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12. Rates of Adult Incarceration and Community Supervision in the US

"After peaking at 3,210 offenders per 100,000 U.S. adult residents in 2007, the correctional supervision rate trended downward, falling to a low of 2,710 per 100,000 by yearend 2015 (table 4). The drop in the correctional supervision rate was attributed equally to the decline in the U.S. correctional population and the increase in the U.S. adult resident population. By yearend 2015, the correctional supervision rate fell to the lowest rate since 1994 (2,650 per 100,000), when about 1.6 million fewer persons were supervised by U.S. adult correctional systems (not shown).
"There were 1,870 offenders per 100,000 U.S. adult residents on either probation or parole at yearend 2015. This represented the lowest rate of offenders under community supervision since 1993 (1,830 per 100,000), when the population was smaller by about 1.1 million offenders (not shown). The community supervision rate reached a high in 2007 (2,240 per 100,000) before declining each year through 2015.
"At yearend 2015, 870 persons per 100,000 U.S. adult residents were under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails. The incarceration rate has been declining since 2009 (980 per 100,000). By yearend 2015, the incarceration rate dropped to the same rate as 1997 (870 per 100,000)."

Danielle Kaeble and Lauren Glaze, "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2015," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2016), NCJ250374, p. 4.
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13. State and Federal Prison Populations in the US, by Race, Gender, and Latinx Ethnicity

"• At year-end 2016, an estimated 7% of non-Hispanic white males in state and federal prison were ages 18 to 24, compared to 13% of non-Hispanic black males and 12% of Hispanic males.

"• Sixteen percent of while male prisoners were age 55 or older, compared to 10% of black male and 8% of Hispanic male prisoners.

"• Eight percent each of white and black female prisoners in 2015 were age 55 or older, compared to 5% of Hispanic female prisoners.

"•More than twice as many white females (48,900 prisoners) as black (20,300) or Hispanic (19,300) females were in state and federal prison at year-end 2016.

"• About 2.5% of black male U.S. residents were in state or federal prison on December 31, 2016 (2,415 per 100,000 black residents) (table 10).

"• Black males ages 18 to 19 were 11.8 times more likely to be imprisoned than white males of the same age. This age group had the highest black-to-white racial disparity in 2016.

"• Black males age 65 or older were 4.4 times more likely to be imprisoned than white males age 65 or older. This age group had the lowest black-to-white racial disparity in 2016.

"• The imprisonment rate for black females (96 per 100,000 black female residents) was almost double that for white females (49 per 100,000 white female residents).

"• Among females ages 18 to 19, black females were 3.1 times more likely than white females and 2.2 times more likely than Hispanic females to be imprisoned in 2016."

E. Ann Carson, PhD. Prisoners In 2016. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, January 2018, NCJ251149, p. 13.
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14. Decline in State & Federal Prisoners 2011-2012

"The number of prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year in federal or state prison, representing 96% of the overall prison population, decreased by 1.7% in 2012 (table 5). The number of sentenced federal prisoners declined slightly (down 0.2%) in 2012, while the total federal population increased. The increase was driven primarily by population increases among inmates without sentences or with sentences of 1 year or less (1,929, not shown in table). The number of sentenced state prisoners also declined, with 25,987 (down 1.9%) fewer sentenced inmates in 2012 than in 2011. California accounted for 57% of this decline. Overall, the number of sentenced male inmates in state or federal prison declined by 1.7% (down 24,109) from 2011 to 2012, and the number of sentenced female inmates decreased by 2.3% (down 2,354) during the same period.
"Among the reporting jurisdictions, 25 out of the 47 states and the federal prison system showed declines in their sentenced prison population (table 6). Five states had decreases of more than 10% in their sentenced female prison population, while five others showed increases among females of more than 10% from 2011 to 2012. However, the majority of these states had a small overall prison population."

Carson, E. Ann, and Golinelli, Daniela, "Prisoners in 2012 - Advance Counts" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 2013), NCJ242467, p. 6.
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15. Total Number of Adults In State and Federal Prisons In The US At Year-End 2015

"At yearend 2015, the United States had an estimated 1,526,800 prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal correctional authorities. This was the smallest U.S. prison population since 2005 (1,525,900 prisoners). The prison population decreased by more than 2% from the number of prisoners held in December 2014 (figure 1). This was the largest decline in the number of persons under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities since 1978 (figure 2).
"The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had jurisdiction over 196,500 prisoners at yearend 2015, a decrease of 14,100 prisoners from yearend 2014. This was the third consecutive year that the federal prison population declined and the lowest number of federal prisoners since 2006 (193,000). This decrease in federal prisoners accounted for 40% of the total change in the U.S. prison population."

E. Ann Carson, PhD, and Elizabeth Anderson. Prisoners In 2015. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2016, NCJ250229, p. 1.
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16. Growth of Jails in the US 2000-2016

US jails held, as confined inmates, 621,149 people in 2000; 767,434 people in 2009; 748,728 people in 2010; 735,601 people in 2011; 744,524 people in 2012; 731,208 people in 2013; 744,592 people in 2014; 727,400 people in 2015; and 740,700 people in 2016.
The above are mid-year counts of inmates confined by local jails on the last weekday of June for each year. Counts were estimated from the Annual Survey of Jails.

On December 31, 2015, jails in the US held 692,500 confined inmates, and on December 31, 2016, jails in the US held 704,500 confined inmates. The Bureau of Justice Statistics warns against comparison of mid-year and end-of-year inmate counts "because the jail population goes through seasonal change, typically with fewer inmates at year-end than at midyear."

Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2016," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Feb. 2018), NCJ251210, p. 2, Table 1, and p. 8, Appendix Table 1.
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Todd D. Minton and Zhen Zeng, "Jail Inmates in 2015," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, December 2016), NCJ250394, Table 1, p. 3.
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17. Jail Incarceration Rate in the US at Year-End 2016, by Age and Race/Ethnicity

"At year-end 2016, the jail incarceration rate was 217 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, which was similar to the rate of 215 per 100,000 at year-end 2015 (table 2). The incarceration rate for adults age 18 or older was 280 per 100,000 U.S. residents age 18 or older at year-end 2016. Males (377 per 100,000 male U.S. residents) were incarcerated at a rate six times that of females (62 per 100,000 female U.S. residents).
"Non-Hispanic blacks (599 per 100,000 black U.S. residents) had the highest jail incarceration rate at year-end 2016, followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (359 per 100,000 AIAN residents). Non-Hispanic whites (171 per 100,000 white residents) and Hispanics (185 per 100,000 Hispanic residents) were incarcerated at a similar rate at year-end 2016. Among non-Hispanics in 2016, blacks were incarcerated in jail at a rate 3.5 times that of whites, down from 5.6 times the rate in 2000."

Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2016," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Feb. 2018), NCJ251210, p. 3.
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18. Number of People Confined in US Jails, 2016, by Conviction Status

"In 2016, an estimated 65% of all jail inmates were awaiting court action on a current charge. The remaining 35% were sentenced offenders or convicted offenders awaiting sentencing. Seventy percent of inmates were held in jail for felony charges."

Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2016," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Feb. 2018), NCJ251210, p. 4.
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19. More Than 60 Percent of People Held in US Jails Have Not Been Convicted

"Since 2005, more than 60% of all jail inmates were awaiting court action on a current charge. About 4 in 10 inmates were sentenced offenders or convicted offenders awaiting sentencing. The growth in the overall jail inmate population since 2000 was due to the increase in the unconvicted population. Regardless of conviction status, about 68% of jail inmates in 2015 were held for a felony offense, and the remaining 32% were held for either misdemeanor (27%) or other offenses (5%) (not shown)."

Todd D. Minton and Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2015," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Dec. 2016), NCJ250394, p. 4.
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20. Number of People in Jails in the US, 2015, by Gender

"The juvenile population (those age 17 or younger) in local jails continued to decline in 2015, to fewer than 4,000 inmates (tables 3 and 4). This was down from a peak of about 7,600 juveniles in 2010. Since 2000, at least 8 in 10 juveniles held in local jails were on trial or awaiting trial in adult court.
"While males accounted for at least 85% of the jail population each year since 2000, the female jail population grew from 11% of the total jail population in 2000 to more than 14% in 2013 and 2014. As a result, the female jail incarceration rate increased from about 50 per 100,000 female U.S. residents in 2000 to nearly 70 per 100,000 in 2014. The male incarceration rate remained relatively stable since 2000 (about 400 per 100,000 male U.S. residents) (not shown)."

Todd D. Minton and Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates in 2015," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Dec. 2016), NCJ250394, p. 4.
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