Dateline: April 8, 2003
America's combined prison and local jail population topped 2 million inmates for the first time in history on June 30, 2002 according to a new report from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
The 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government held 1,355,748 prisoners (two-thirds of the total incarcerated population), and local municipal and county jails held 665,475 inmates.
By midyear 2002, America's jails held 1 in every 142 U.S. residents. Males were incarcerated at the rate of 1,309 inmates per 100,000 U.S. men, while the female incarceration rate was 113 per 100,000 women residents.
Of the 1,200,203 state prisoners, 3,055 were younger than 18 years old. In addition, adult jails held 7,248 inmates under 18.
Federal, state and local prisons see increases
During the 12-month period ending last June 30, the local jail population increased by 34,235 inmates, the largest increase (5.4 percent) since 1997. State prisons added 12,440 inmates (a 1 percent increase) and the federal prison system grew by 8,042 (5.7 percent).
More than 40 percent of the total increase in the number of people incarcerated during the period was accounted for by the growth in the federal prison population. During the year the responsibility for housing sentenced District of Columbia felons was transferred to the federal system and completed on December 31, 2001. This accounted for one-quarter of the federal increase between midyear 2001 and midyear 2002 and contributed to making the federal system the largest prison jurisdiction in the nation.
State prison populations
Twenty states experienced an inmate population increase of 5 percent or more during the 12 months ending June 30, 2002, led by Rhode Island (up 17.4 percent) and New Mexico (11.1 percent). Nine states, including several large states, experienced prison population declines.
Illinois had the largest percentage decrease (down 5.5 percent), followed by Texas (down 3.9 percent), New York (down 2.9 percent), Delaware (down 2.3 percent) and California (down 2.2 percent).
Non-citizen prison population also growing
As of last June 30, state and federal correctional authorities held 88,776 non-citizens, a 1 percent increase from the 87,917 held a year earlier. Sixty-two percent were held in state prisons and 38 percent in federal institutions.
Private prison population drops
Privately operated prisons held 86,626 inmates last June 30, down 6.1 percent from the number held on December 31, 2001. Texas reported the largest decline, from 16,331 to 10,764 prisoners.
More new inmates than new prison beds
For the first time since midyear 1997 the number of additional jail inmates grew faster than the number of new jail beds during the 12 months preceding June 30, 2002. Nonetheless, at midyear 2002 local jails were operating at 7 percent below their officially rated capacities. At the end of 2001, the most recent period for which the data are available, state prisons were operating from 1 to 16 percent above capacity, and federal prisons were at 31 percent above capacity.