See our analysis after the summary:
WASHINGTON – As of midyear 2009, 767,620 inmates were held in custody of county and city jail authorities, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. During the 12-month period ending June 30, 2009, the local jail population declined by 2.3 percent (down 17,936 inmates). This is the first decline in the U.S. jail population since BJS implemented the Annual Survey of Jails in 1982. The number of male inmates decreased 1.7 percent (down nearly 12,000) and female inmates decreased 6 percent (down more than 5,900).
Local jails, unlike prisons, are confinement facilities usually operated by a local law enforcement agency. In 2009 approximately 62 percent of jail inmates were unconvicted and being held pending arraignment, awaiting trial, or conviction. The remainder (38 percent) had been convicted and awaiting sentencing, had been sentenced to serve time in jail or were awaiting transfer to serve time in state or federal prisons. At midyear 2009, jail authorities were also responsible for supervising more than 70,000 offenders outside of the jail facilities, including 11,800 under electronic monitoring, 11,200 in weekend programs, 17,700 in community service programs, and 12,400 in other pretrial release programs.
The total rated capacity for all jails nationwide reached 849,544 beds at midyear 2009, up from an estimated 828,413 beds at midyear 2008 (an increase of 2.6 percent) The percent of capacity occupied at midyear 2009 (90.4 percent) was the lowest since 2001 (90.0 percent).
Jail population declines were mostly concentrated in large jails. Among the 171 jail jurisdictions with 1,000 or more inmates on an average day, two-thirds reported a decline. Seven jurisdictions reported a drop of more than 500 inmates (accounting for 29 percent of the decline nationwide). Miami-Dade County, FL, with a drop of 1,090, and Orange County, FL, with a drop of 944, led the nation in overall decline in their inmate population.
Local jails admitted an estimated 12.8 million persons during the 12 months ending June 30, 2009, or about 17 times the size of the midyear inmate population (767,620 inmates). More than four in 10 (42 percent) admissions during the last week of June 2009 were to the largest jail jurisdictions with an average daily jail population of 1,000 or more inmates. Small jail jurisdictions holding fewer than 50 inmates accounted for 6.0 percent of all jail admissions, but they admitted about 35 times the size of their inmate population.
The report, Jail Inmates at Midyear 2009 – Statistical Tables(NCJ 230122), was written by BJS statistician Todd Minton. Following publication, the report can be found at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=2195.
Our analysis: The populations of city and county jails and state prisons will decrease at record levels within the next five to ten years. The vast majority of states and local governments are operating under severe budget difficulties and correctional administrators have been told to cut spending. Elaborate explanations will be offered but the heart of the matter is budget. Cities, counties and states can no longer afford the current rates of incarceration.
Crime in America.Net staff.