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Prison population nearly doubled in past decade.

The number of people incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails in the United States nearly doubled in the past decade.

In 1985, prisons and jails held an estimated 313 men and women per 100,000 U.S. residents, according to Darrell Gilliard and Allen Beck, statisticians for the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). By June 30, 1996, the number increased to 615 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents--or 1 in every 163 residents. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bulletin: Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 1996, NCJ-162843 (Jan. 1997).)

Other findings reported in the bulletin:

* Between December31, 1985, and mid-year 1996, the incarcerated population grew from 744,208 to 1,630,940-an average growth rate of 7.8 percent a year. During this same period, the federal prison population grew at an average rate of 9.5 percent, while state prison populations increased at a rate of 8.1 percent. Local jail populations, which typically hold men and women who are awaiting trial or are serving prison sentences of one year or less, grew at a rate of 6.9 percent.

* From July 1, 1995, through June 30, 1996, total incarceration grew by 4.4 percent (4.3 percent for federal prisons, 5.6 percent for state prisons, and 2.3 percent for local jails). Thirty-nine percent of this growth occurred in the federal system, California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

During this same period, the prison population increased by at least 10 percent in 13 states, led by Nebraska (16 percent); Montana (15.2 percent); North Carolina (14.4 percent); Oregon (14.1 percent); Wisconsin (13.9 percent); and Pennsylvania (13.7 percent).

Only two states and the District of Columbia reported declines in their prison populations. The District had the largest decline (-6.9 percent); followed by New Hampshire (-0.7 percent); and Connecticut (-0.2 percent).

* On average, the female jail population has grown 10.2 percept annually since 1985, while the male jail population has grown 6.1 percent annually.

* In 1996, local jails reported their lowest occupancy rates in 12 years. At midyear, jails were operating at 8 percent less than their rated capacity. Since 1990, the capacity of jails has risen by nearly 173,000 beds, while the number of inmates held" has increased by about 113,200.

To obtain a copy of the bulletin, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 1996, call the BJS Clearinghouse at (800) 732-3277 or the fax-on-demand service at (301) 251-5550. The bulletin is also available on BJS's Internet home page at http:/ Click on "What's New at BJS."
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Author:McMurry, Kelly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 1, 1997
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