Prisons, Jails, and the Corrections System: Overview

Related Chapters:
Drugs and Prison
Race and Prison
Crime, Arrests and Law Enforcement

Page last updated Oct. 16, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

61. Sexual Violence in Prison

"In December 2000, the Prison Journal published a study based on a survey of inmates in seven men's prison facilities in four states. The results showed that 21 percent of the inmates had experienced at least one episode of pressured or forced sexual contact since being incarcerated, and at least 7 percent had been raped in their facility. A 1996 study of the Nebraska prison system produced similar findings, with 22 percent of male inmates reporting that they had been pressured or forced to have sexual contact against their will while incarcerated. Of these, over 50 percent had submitted to forced anal sex at least once. Extrapolating these findings to the national level gives a total of at least 140,000 inmates who have been raped."

Human Rights Watch, "No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons," (New York, NY: April 2001), p. 10.
http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/...

62. State Prison Costs, 2001

"Correctional authorities spent $38.2 billion to maintain the Nation?'s State correctional systems in fiscal year 2001, including $29.5 billion specifically for adult correctional facilities. Day-to-day operating expenses totaled $28.4 billion, and capital outlays for land, new building, and renovations, $1.1 billion.
"The average annual operating cost per State inmate in 2001 was $22,650, or $62.05 per day. Among facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it was $22,632 per inmate, or $62.01 per day."

Stephan, James J., "State Prison Expenditures, 2001," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, June, 2004), p. 1.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

63. Prisons & Jails - Data - 1-14-10

"We must have law enforcement authorities address the issue because if we do not, prevention, education, and treatment messages will not work very well. But having said that, I also believe that we have created an American gulag."

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey (USA, Ret.), Director, ONDCP, Keynote Address, Opening Plenary Session, National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, September 19, 1996, Washington, DC.
http://archives.drugabuse.gov/...

64. Prisons & Jails - History - 3-26-12

(Growth of Prison Population) "The prison population began to climb in the late 1970s as states and the federal government cracked down on crime. One turning point was New York State’s 1973 imposition of mandatory sentencing laws for drug offenses, under the administration of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.40 Other states followed. Initiatives included mandatory sentences for repeat armed career criminals. Congress, in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (18 U.S.C. 3651), repealed federal courts’ authority to suspend criminal sentences and made other changes.41 In 1994, California voters and legislators approved Proposition 184, the so-called Three Strikes Law. Among other things, the law set a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for three-time offenders with prior serious or violent felony convictions.42"

Kirchhoff, Suzanne M., "Economic Impacts of Prison Growth," Congressional Research Service, (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, April 13, 2010), p. 7.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mis...

65. Average Cost of Federal Incarceration

Prisons & Jails - Federal Data

"The fee to cover the average cost of incarceration for Federal inmates in Fiscal Year 2009 was $25,251. The average annual cost to confine an inmate in a Community Corrections Center for Fiscal Year 2009 was $24,758."

"Annual Determination of Average Cost of Incarceration," Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 23, Thursday, February 3, 2011, p. 6161.
http://www.bls.gov/green/frn_2...

66. Federal Bureau of Prisons Budget

"The FY 2013 budget request for BOP totals $6,919 million, which is a 4.2% increase over the FY 2012 Enacted. The request includes $6,820 million for Salaries and Expenses and $99.2 million for Buildings and Facilities. A rescission of $75.0 million in prior year construction balances is also proposed."

"FY 2013 Budget Request At A Glance" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2012), p. 1.
http://www.justice.gov/jmd/201...

67. State Spending on Corrections

(2012) States spent $53.2 billion on Corrections in 2012. That year, states spent $171.8 billion on Higher Education and only $24.4 billion on Public Assistance.
(2011) States spent $52 billion on Corrections in 2011. That year, states spent $171.8 billion on Higher Education and only $27.6 billion on Public Assistance.
(2010) States spent $51.1 billion on Corrections in 2010. That year, states spent $164.8 billion on Higher Education and only $26.6 billion on Public Assistance.
(2008) States spent $52 billion on Corrections in 2008. That year, states spent $158.2 billion on Higher Education and only $25.1 billion on Public Assistance.
(2005) States spent $42.9 billion on Corrections in 2005. That year, states spent $131.2 billion on Higher Education and only $24.7 billion on Public Assistance.

National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "State Expenditure Report 2012: Examining Fiscal 2011-2013 State Spending," (Washington, DC: NASBO, 2013), pp. 22, 30, and 52.
https://higherlogicdownload.s3/...
National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "State Expenditure Report: Examining Fiscal 2010-2012 State Spending" (Washington, DC: NASBO, 2012), pp. 22, 30, and 52.
https://higherlogicdownload.s3...
National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "Fiscal Year 2010 State Expenditure Report: Examining Fiscal 2009-2011 State Spending" (Washington, DC: NASBO, 2011), pp. 22, 30, and 52.
https://higherlogicdownload.s3...
National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "Fiscal Year 2008 State Expenditure Report," (Washington, DC: NASBO, Fall 2009), p. 23, Table 12; p. 35, Table 18; and p. 56, Table 32.
https://higherlogicdownload.s3...
National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "Fiscal Year 2005 State Expenditure Report," (Washington, DC: NASBO, Fall 2006), p. 23, Table 12; p. 35, Table 18; and p. 58, Table 32.
https://higherlogicdownload.s3...

68. State Spending on Corrections

"State spending on corrections reflects the costs to build and operate prison systems and may include spending on juvenile justice programs and alternatives to incarceration such as probation and parole. State spending for corrections totaled $53.2 billion in fiscal 2012, compared to $51.5 billion in fiscal 2011. In fiscal 2012, corrections spending represented 3.2 percent of total state spending and 6.9 percent of general fund spending. General fund dollars are the primary source for state corrections and account for $46.0 billion, or 86.3 percent, of all fiscal 2012 state corrections spending. State funds (general funds and other state funds combined, but excluding bonds) accounted for 96.6 percent of total state corrections spending in fiscal 2012. Federal funds accounted for 1.9 percent and bonds accounted for 1.5 percent. Federal funds for corrections declined by 34.5 percent in fiscal 2012, as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds began to expire. However, even with the sharp decline in federal funds, total state spending for corrections still grew by 3.3 percent, illustrating the fact that state correctional services are almost entirely financed by state funds.
"State spending on corrections in fiscal 2013 is estimated to total $53.1 billion, a 0.3 percent decline from fiscal 2012. State funds are estimated to increase by 0.3 percent, while federal funds are estimated to decline by 11.7 percent. The slight decline in the overall growth rate is partly due to recent efforts states have taken to control corrections spending. From fiscal 1987 to fiscal 2012, nominal spending from state funds for corrections increased from $11.4 billion to $51.4 billion. Over the past several years, states have begun targeting criminal justice reforms to address the cost drivers of corrections expenditures. For example, according to a September 2013 NASBO issue brief, states have begun controlling costs through reducing recidivism rates, implementing changes to parole and probation systems, enhancing community supervision and drug treatment programs, and enacting sentencing reforms."

National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), "State Expenditure Report 2012: Examining Fiscal 2011-2013 State Spending," (Washington, DC: NASBO, 2013), p. 52.
http://www.nasbo.org/...

69. Prisons - Data - 9-18-10

(State Prison Population and Violent Crime) "As state prison populations fell, so did the violent crime rate, which provides further evidence that increased incarceration does not mean more public safety. Concurrent with the 5.3 percent fall in violent crime in 2008-2009, state prison populations decreased 0.2 percent, the first population decrease since 2000.4 The number of people in prison is still growing, but at a slower rate than during the last few decades and primarily due to increases in federal prison system population.5 The 0.2 percent growth in the total U.S. prison population during 2009 was the third year of decline in the rate of growth and the slowest growth in eight years."

Justice Policy Institute, "Crime fell in 2009, demonstrating states are safely reducing prison populations," (Washington, DC: September 2010).
http://www.justicepolicy.org/i...

70. State Spending on Prisons vs. Higher Education

"In 1987, the states collectively spent $10.6 billion of their general funds—their primary pool of discretionary tax dollars—on corrections. Last year, they spent more than $44 billion, a 315 percent jump, data from the National Association of State Budget Officers show. Adjusted to 2007 dollars, the increase was 127 percent. Over the same period, adjusted spending on higher education rose just 21 percent."

Pew Center on the States, "One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008," (Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts, February 2008), p. 4.
http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/re...

71. Felony Convictions in State Courts

"In 2006, an estimated 1,205,273 persons were convicted of a felony (federal and state courts). Of that number, 1,132,290 were convicted in state courts, the vast majority (94 percent) of whom pleaded guilty. At the time of sentencing, about 3 out of 4 felons sentenced (77 percent) were sentenced for a single felony."

The accompanying data table shows that 377,860 (33.4%) of these convictions were for Drug Offenses, of which 165,360 (14.6% of all convictions) were for Possession and 212,490 (18.8% of all convictions) were for Trafficking.

Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 (Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, 2012), Table 346 Felony Convictions in State Courts: 2000 to 2006, p. 216.
http://www.census.gov/compendi...
http://www.census.gov/prod/201...

72. Prisons & Jails - Research - Increase in State Prisons

(Increase in State Prisons) "Over the last 25 years, the number of state facilities increased from just fewer than 600 to over 1,000 in the year 2000, an increase of about 70 percent. In other words, more than 40 percent of state prisons in operation today opened in the last 25 years."

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 2.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedP...

73. Number of Juveniles Held in Adult Jails in the US

"About 4,200 juveniles age 17 or younger were held in local jails at midyear 2014. They accounted for 0.6% of the confined population, down from 1.2% at midyear 2000. Nearly 90% or 3,700 juvenile inmates were tried or awaiting trial in adult court. The number of juveniles not charged as an adult declined by 74% between midyear 2010 and 2014 (from 1,900 to 500 inmates)."

Todd D. Minton and Zhen Zeng, PhD, "Jail Inmates at Midyear 2014," Bureau of Justice Statistics (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, June 2015), NCJ248629, p. 4.
https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm...
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

74. Cost Savings from Reducing the Incarceration Rate

"We calculate that a reduction by one-half in the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders would lower correctional expenditures by $16.9 billion per year and return the U.S. to about the same incarceration rate we had in 1993 (which was already high by historical standards). The large majority of these savings would accrue to financially squeezed state and local governments, amounting to about one-fourth of their annual corrections budgets. As a group, state governments could save $7.6 billion, while local governments could save $7.2 billion."

Schmitt, John; Warner, Kris and Gupta, Sarika, "The High Budgetary Cost of Incarceration," Center for Economic and Policy Research (Washington, DC: June 2012), p. 1.
http://www.cepr.net/documents/...

75. Incarceration and Crime Rates

Sociopolitical Research

"While it may seem obvious that locking up more people would lower the crime rate, the reality is much more complicated. Sentencing and release policies, not crime rates, determine the numbers of persons in prison. This point is illustrated by examining what happened to incarceration rates and crime rates nationally in the period from 1991-1998. This was a period in which crime rates fell but rates of incarceration continued to increase. During that time, the states that experienced below-average increases in their rate of incarceration actually experienced above-average decreases in crime. The three largest states offer useful examples: Texas experienced a 144% increase in incarceration with a 35% drop in crime rates, and California had a 44% rise in its incarceration rate with a 36% drop in crime rates. In contrast, New York saw its incarceration rate increase by only 24%, yet nonetheless experienced a drop in crime rates of 43%."

Alexander, Elizabeth, "Michigan Breaks the Political Logjam: A New Model for Reducing Prison Populations," American Civil Liberties Union (November 2009), p. 4.
http://www.aclu.org/files/asse...

76. Incarceration and Crime Reduction

"Incarceration has not been definitively shown to reduce crime rates. Bruce Western at Harvard University recently found that only 10 percent of the crime decline in the 1990s was due to increased use of incarceration.7 Between 1998 and 2007, states that had the greatest increases in incarceration rates did not necessarily see a corresponding drop in crime rates. Some states (Maryland Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas) lowered their incarceration rates and still experienced a drop in crime rates.8 Such uneven results do not support continued over-reliance on incarceration, particularly in a time of fiscal crisis."

Justice Policy Institute, "Pruning Prisons: How Cutting Corrections Can Save Money and Protect Public Safety," (Washington, DC: May 2009), p. 5.
http://www.justicepolicy.org/i...

77. States with Greatest Prison Growth

"Figure 6 lists the top 10 states ranked from the highest growth to the lowest growth. They are Texas, Florida, California, New York, Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Colorado, and Missouri. The magnitude of prison growth in these 10 states is remarkable. Between 1979 and 2000, the number of additional prisons ranged from 19 prisons in Missouri to 120 prisons in Texas. The growth in Texas equates to an extraordinary average annual increase of 5.7 additional prisons per year over the 21-year period. As a group, the 10 states were operating more than three times as many prisons in 2000 as in 1979—increasing from 195 facilities to 604 facilities. Figure 6 shows the relative growth in each state in addition to the absolute growth. In all 10 states, the number of prisons increased by more than 100 percent over the two decades. States with the lowest relative growth are Florida, which grew by 115 percent, and New York, which grew by 117 percent. Texas is again the clear leader growing by 706 percent over the 21-year period. Indeed, Texas is in a league of its own, as it added the most prisons (120), currently has the largest number of prisons in operation (137), and experienced the largest percentage increase (706 percent)."

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 9.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedP...

78. Community Losses Due to Prisoner Relocation

According to a report on prison growth by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, "Every dollar transferred to a "prison community" is a dollar that is not given to the home community of a prisoner, which is often among the country's most disadvantaged urban areas. According to one account, Cook County Illinois will lose nearly $88 million in federal benefits over the next decade because residents were counted in the 2000 Census in their county of incarceration rather than their county of origin (Duggan 2000). Losing funds from the "relocation" of prisoners is also an issue for New York City, as two-thirds of state prisoners are from the city, while 91 percent of prisoners are incarcerated in upstate counties (Wagner 2002a)."

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 3.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedP...

79. Prison Construction Boom

"The prison construction boom was not concentrated in a few, key states or in certain regions of the country. Prison systems expanded significantly in states across the country. Prison systems also expanded within states. The share of counties in the top 10 states that were home to at least one prison increased from 13 to 31 percent between 1979 and 2000. State level maps (figures 13 to 22) illustrate that new prisons were geographically dispersed throughout the states. New prisons were generally not spatially concentrated, as few counties gained three or more prisons. Finally, prisons expanded into different types of counties; prisons increased significantly in both non-metro counties and metro counties."

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 42.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedP...

80. Housing Prisoners in Other States

"The effect of prisoner location on population counts may also influence the allocation of political representation and, therefore, political influence (Haberman 2000). In Wisconsin, the number of state prisoners who were housed in other states (known as interstate transfers) caused concern because these prisoners would be counted in the decennial census in the states where they were incarcerated. In 1999, U.S. Representative Mark Green introduced a bill (unsuccessfully) that proposed changes to the census policy so Wisconsin prisoners held in other states would be counted as Wisconsin residents."

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 3.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedP...

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