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Justice Department: US Prison Population Hits New Record High

The US Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics released its report Prisoners 2006 in mid-December. According to the Bureau, "At yearend 2006 Federal and State correctional authorities had jurisdiction over 1,570,861 prisoners, an increase of 2.8% since yearend 2005.1 The Federal system held 12.3% of these prisoners, and States held the remaining 87.7%. The number of prisoners under Federal jurisdiction increased by 5,428 prisoners, and the number under State jurisdiction increased by 37,504 prisoners."

The Bureau reported that "At yearend 2004 (the most recent data available for estimating offense distributions by gender and race) more than half (52%) of all sentenced inmates in State prisons were sentenced for a violent offense (table 11) (See Appendix tables 9 and 10). Property offenses were the most serious charge for 21% of State prisoners, and drug offenses, 20%." They also reported that "On September 30, 2006, (the latest available data from the Federal Justice Statistics Program on offenses of Federal prisoners) drug, weapons, and immigration offenders made up more than three-quarters (78%) of the 176,268 sentenced Federal prison population (table 12). Drug offenders made up more than half (53%); weapons offenders, 14%; and immigration offenders, 11%."

The Bureau noted that "Offense distributions differed between sentenced male and female State prisoners. More than half of males (53%) were sentenced for violent offenses, compared to 34% of females. Among State prisoners, sentenced females were more likely than sentenced males to be sentenced for property (31% vs. 20%) and drug offenses (29% vs. 19%). There were also differences in offense distributions at yearend 2004 by race and Hispanic origin. A majority of black (53%) and Hispanic (54%) prisoners were sentenced for violent offenses, compared to about half (50%) of white prisoners. Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be sentenced for drug offenses (23% of blacks, 21% of Hispanics, and 15% of whites). Whites were more likely (26%) than blacks (18%) or Hispanics (18%) to be sentenced for property offenses."

A copy of the Bureau's report can be downloaded from the BJS website or from the CSDP research archive.

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Updated: Friday, December 14, 2007   ~   Accessed: 3455 times
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