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.

81. Economics of Prison Construction

"The few studies on the local economic impacts of prisons to date have not found significant positive impacts. For example, a study by the Sentencing Project challenges the notion that a new prison brings economic benefits to smaller communities. Using 25 years of data from New York State rural counties, the authors looked at employment rates and per capita income and found 'no significant difference or discernible pattern of economic trends' between counties that were home to a prison and counties that were not home to a prison (King, Mauer, and Huling 2003). According to a recent study by Iowa State University, many towns that made sizeable investments in prisons did not reap the economic gains that were predicted (Besser 2003). Another analysis in Texas found no impacts as measured by consumer spending in nearly three-fourths of the areas examined (Chuang 1998)."

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...

82. Incarceration Far From Home

"Another issue related to prison expansion of the 1980s and 1990s is the disparity between where prisoners come from ("home counties") and where prisoners serve their sentences ("prison counties"). Many believe that the prison construction boom of the last 20 years happened in areas that were located far away from prisoners' homes. This has been an area of concern because greater distances between a prisoner's home and where he or she is incarcerated can negatively impact a prisoner and his or her family members. Being incarcerated far away from home makes it more challenging to maintain familial relationships and parent/child relationships in particular. In addition, challenges related to reintegrating into the community increase when a prisoner is housed far away from home. For example, steps that may facilitate prisoner reentry, such as finding a job and a place to live, are more difficult when a prisoner is imprisoned a long distance from the place to which he or she will return after release."

Lawrence, Sarah and Jeremy Travis, "The New Landscape of Imprisonment: Mapping America's Prison Expansion" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, April 2004), p. 33.
http://www.urban.org/UploadedP...

83. Economic Incentive for Prison Construction

"The economic benefits of new prisons may come from the flow of additional state and federal dollars. In the decennial census, prisoners are counted where they are incarcerated, and many federal and state funding streams are tied to census population counts. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office (2003), the federal government distributes over $140 billion in grant money to state and local governments through formula-based grants. Formula grant money is in part based on census data and covers programs such as Medicaid, Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Social Services Block Grant (U.S. General Accounting Office 2003). Within a state, funding for community health services, road construction and repair, public housing, local law enforcement, and public libraries are all driven by population counts from the census."

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...

84. Suicide Risk in Jails

"Once they [people with drug addiction and mental health disorders] are incarcerated, researchers have found that the people’s reaction to jail conditions can exacerbate mental health problems and conditions that may increase their propensity towards suicidal behavior. Newly jailed people experience fear of the unknown, distrust of the environment, isolation from family and significant others, shame and stigma of incarceration, a loss of stabilizing resources and severe guilt or shame over the alleged offense. Current mental illness and prior history of suicidal behavior also intensify in the jail environment.150 These conditions and stressors conspire to increase the suicide rate in jails, as compared to the general population. Compared with a U.S. suicide rate of 17 per 100,000 people, the suicide rate in local jails is 47 per 100,000 people.151 Suicide is second only to illness in the leading cause of death in jails: 25 percent of all deaths in jails in 2006 were suicides.152"

Justice Policy Institute, "Baltimore Behind Bars: How to Reduce the Jail Population, Save Money and Improve Public Safety (Washington, DC: June 2010), pp. 50-51.
http://www.justicepolicy.org/i...

85. Total Number of People Serving Sentences in Private Prisons in the US

"• In 2015, 8% of the total number of state and federal prisoners were held in privately operated facilities that were under the jurisdiction of 29 states and the BOP. The number of prisoners held in private facilities in 2015 (126,300) decreased 4% (5,500 prisoners) from yearend 2014 (appendix table 2)."

E. Ann Carson, PhD, and Elizabeth Anderson. Prisoners In 2015. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2016, NCJ250229, p. 16.
https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm...
https://www.bjs.gov/content/pu...

86. Number of People in the US Serving Time in Private Prisons for Federal Offenses

"• Federal prisoners held in private prison decreased by 5,100 prisoners, which accounted for 93% of the total decrease in the number of prisoners held in private prisons at yearend 2015.
??"• Private prison facilities, including nonsecure community corrections centers and home confinement, housed almost 18% of the federal prison population on December 31, 2015."

E. Ann Carson, PhD, and Elizabeth Anderson. Prisoners In 2015. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2016, NCJ250229, p. 16.
https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm...
https://www.bjs.gov/content/pu...

87. State Use of Private Prisons in the US and Number of People Serving Time in Private Prisons for State Offenses, 2015

"• Six states (Hawaii, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) housed at least 20% of their prison population in privately operated facilities.
??"• Vermont, Connecticut, Alabama, and Idaho experienced large percentage decreases in prisoners held in private facilities, while South Dakota, North Dakota, and Ohio observed large percentage increases."

E. Ann Carson, PhD, and Elizabeth Anderson. Prisoners In 2015. Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2016, NCJ250229, p. 16.
https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm...
https://www.bjs.gov/content/pu...

88. Private Prison Costs

"Meanwhile, the benefit to counties where private prisons are built and operated can be quite scant — some receive less than $2 per prisoner per day from the private prison operator.119 The private prison companies themselves receive a far greater payoff from the government entity (such as a state corrections department) whose prisoners the company incarcerates. For example, private prison operators in Arizona were paid $63.52 per medium security prisoner per day in 2009,120 and as early as 2000, the federal government agreed to pay CCA almost $90 per day for each detained immigrant at a San Diego facility."

Shapiro, David, "Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration," American Civil Liberties Union (New York, NY: November 2, 2011), p. 21.
http://www.aclu.org/files/asse...

89. Private Prison Industry

"Today, private companies imprison roughly 130,000 prisoners34 and, according to one group, 16,000 civil immigration detainees in the United States at any given time.35 As states send more and more people to prison, they funnel ever greater amounts of taxpayer money to private prison operators. By 2010, annual revenues of the two top private prison companies alone stood at nearly $3 billion.36"

Note: The two prison companies named in this report are "Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group (then called Wackenhut Corrections Corporation)."

Shapiro, David, "Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration," American Civil Liberties Union (New York, NY: November 2, 2011), pp. 9 & 13.
http://www.aclu.org/files/asse...

90. Prisons - Data - 11-30-11

(Lobbying by Private Prison Companies) "Certain private prison companies, according to a recent report by Detention Watch Network, spend large sums of money to lobby the House of Representatives, the Senate, and several federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons (which incarcerates over 200,000 prisoners at any given time) and the Department of Homeland Security (which detains over 30,000 immigrants at any given time).238 According to nonprofit groups, CCA alone spent over $18 million on federal lobbying between 1999 and 2009, 'often employing five or six firms at the same time,'239 and in 2010, CCA spent another $970,000 lobbying the federal government."

Shapiro, David, "Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration," American Civil Liberties Union (New York, NY: November 2, 2011), p. 38.
http://www.aclu.org/files/asse...

91. HIV AIDS and AIDS-Related Deaths in US Prisons

"At yearend 2010, state and federal prisons held a reported 20,093 inmates who had HIV or AIDS, down from 20,880 at yearend 2009. As a result of this decline, the estimated rate of HIV/AIDS among prisoners in custody dropped from 151 HIV/AIDS cases per 10,000 inmates in 2009 to 146 per 10,000 in 2010. The number of state and federal inmates who died from AIDS-related causes also declined between 2009 and 2010, from 94 to 72 deaths. During the same period, the rate of AIDS-related deaths among inmates with HIV/AIDS declined from 47 deaths per 10,000 inmates to 38 per 10,000."

Maruschak, Laura M. "HIV In Prisons, 2001-2010," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics), NCJ 238877, Sept. 2012, p. 1.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

92. Cases and Deaths in Inmate Population, 2001-2010

"Between 2001 and 2010, the estimated number of inmates with HIV/AIDS declined by 16%, and the number of AIDS-related deaths in prison declined by 77% (not shown in table) resulting in declines in the rates of HIV/AIDS and AIDS-related deaths among all inmates and those with HIV/AIDS. At yearend 2001, the estimated rate of HIV/AIDS among state and federal prison inmates was 194 HIV/AIDS cases per 10,000 inmates. By yearend 2010, the estimated rate was 146 cases per 10,000. Among the total inmate population, the rate of AIDS-related deaths declined from 24 per 100,000 inmates in 2001 to 5 per 100,000 in 2010. Among the inmate population with HIV/AIDS, the rate declined from 134 AIDS-related deaths per 10,000 inmates in 2001 to 38 per 10,000 in 2010."

Maruschak, Laura M., HIV in Prisons, 2001-2010 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics), NCJ238877, Sept. 2012, p. 2.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

93. HIV Prevalence Among State Prisoners by Drug Use

"The percentage of State prison inmates who were HIV positive was —

"1.3% of those who never used drugs
"1.7% of those who had ever used drugs
"1.9% of those who used drugs in the month before their current offense
"2.8% of those who had used a needle to inject drugs
"5.1% of those who had shared a needle.

"Like State inmates, Federal inmates who used a needle and shared a needle had higher rates of HIV infection than those inmates who reported ever using drugs or using drugs in the month before their current offense."

Maruschak, Laura M. "HIV In Prisons, 2004," NCJ-213897 (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nov. 2006), p. 10.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

94. HIV/AIDS Death Rate in Prisons, 2001-2010

"The rate of AIDS-related deaths in state prisons among inmates ages 15 to 54 declined sharply between 2001 and 2009, compared to the more modest decline observed among the same age group in the U.S. general population. As a result, the AIDS-related death rate in state prisons fell below the rate in the U.S. general population in 2009. Between 2001 and 2009, the AIDS-related death rate among state prisoners ages 15 to 54 declined from 22 deaths per 100,000 inmates to 6 per 100,000, while the rate among that age group in the general population declined from 9 per 100,000 to 7 per 100,000."

Maruschak, Laura M., HIV in Prisons, 2001-2010 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics), NCJ238877, Sept. 2012, p. 3.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

95. HIV and AIDS Cases Among State and Federal Prisoners, 2010

"A reported 20,093 inmates with HIV/AIDS were in custody in state or federal prison at yearend 2010, down from 20,880 at yearend 2009 (table 1).
"The reported number of state inmates with HIV/AIDS decreased from 19,290 in 2009 to 18,515 in 2010. The number of federal inmates with HIV/AIDS also declined, from 1,590 in 2009 to 1,578 in 2010.
"California, Florida, New York, and Texas each reported holding more than 1,000 inmates with HIV/AIDS at yearend 2010. These states held 51% (9,492) of all state prisoners with HIV/AIDS.
"Among state and federal inmates with HIV/AIDS at yearend 2010, 18,337 were male and 1,756 were female, compared to 19,027 male and 1,853 female inmates at yearend 2009 (table 2)."

Maruschak, Laura M., "HIV in Prisons, 2001-2010" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics), NCJ238877, Sept. 2012, p. 4.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

96. AIDS Deaths in Prisons by Region, 2005

"During 2005 an estimated 176 State inmates died from AIDS-related causes, down from 185 in 2004. For every 100,000 State inmates, 13 died from AIDS-related causes. AIDS-related deaths accounted for nearly 1 in 20 deaths reported in State prisons. New York reported the largest number of AIDS-related deaths (19), followed by Florida (17) and California (14). Relative to the number of inmates in custody, the Northeast reported the highest rate of AIDS-related deaths (28 per 100,000 inmates), followed by the South (13 per 100,000 inmates).
"Among Federal inmates, 27 died from AIDS-related causes in 2005, up from 18 in 2004. For every 100,000 Federal inmates, 15 died from AIDS-related causes. AIDS-related deaths accounted for 7% of all deaths in Federal prisons."

Maruschak, Laura M. "HIV In Prisons, 2005," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics), NCJ218915, Sept. 2007, p. 1.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

97. HIV/AIDS in Prison, 2005

"In each year since 1991, the rate of confirmed AIDS has been higher among prison inmates than in the U.S. general population, but the gap has been narrowing. At yearend 2005, the estimated rate of confirmed AIDS in State and Federal prisons was more than 21?2 times higher than in the general population (table 3). In 1999 it was nearly 5 times higher.
"The shrinking difference between the rate of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons and the general population between 1999 and 2005 resulted from a decrease in the number of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons (down 20%) and an increase in cases (up 44%) among the general population."

Maruschak, Laura M. "HIV In Prisons, 2005," (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics), NCJ218915, Sept. 2007, p. 3.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

98. HIV in Jails

"Among jail inmates in 2002 who had ever been tested for HIV, Hispanics (2.9%) were more than 3 times as likely as whites (0.8%) and twice as likely as blacks (1.2%) to report being HIV positive."

Maruschak, Laura M. "HIV In Prisons and Jails, 2002," NCJ-205333 (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2004), p. 1.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

99. HIV Among Jail Inmates

"In personal interviews conducted in 2002, nearly two-thirds of local jail inmates reported ever being tested for HIV; of those, 1.3% disclosed that they were HIV positive."

Maruschak, Laura M. "HIV In Prisons and Jails, 2002," NCJ-205333 (Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2004), p. 1.
http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub...

100. Prisons - Law - 9-12-11

Definitions and Other

(Writ of Habeas Corpus) "By way of background, the writ of habeas corpus is a venerable legal procedure that allows a prisoner to get a hearing before an impartial judge. If the jailer is able to supply a valid legal basis for the arrest and imprisonment at the hearing, the judge will simply order the prisoner to be returned to jail. But if the judge discovers that the imprisonment is illegal, he has the power to set the prisoner free. For that reason, the Framers of the American Constitution routinely referred to this legal procedure as the 'Great Writ' because it was considered one of the great safeguards of individual liberty."

Lynch, Timothy, "Doublespeak and the War on Terrorism," CATO Institute (Washington, DC: September 6, 2006), pp. 6-7.
http://www.cato.org/sites/cato...

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