National State Prison Populations Decline for the First Time Since 1972

Dear readers: As predicted multiple times throughout Crime in America.Net, prison and county/city jail populations will continue to decline.  State prisons and jail systems simply do not have the money to continue the current rates of incarceration. State prison and local jail system will continue to shed population for the next five years until the recovery creates a larger tax base for government.

Whether or not this will have an impact on crime rates or totals remains to be seen. Criminologists put the impact of reduced crime based on incarceration anywhere between 25 to 50 percent of crime reductions over the last 20 years.

America is thought to have the highest rate of incarceration in the world.


Crime in America.Net staff.



WASHINGTON – During 2009, the number of prisoners under jurisdiction of state correctional authorities decreased by 2,941 inmates (down 0.2 percent), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. This was the first decline in the state prison population since 1972.

Twenty-four states experienced decreases in their prison populations and 26 had increases. Six states reported declines of more than 1,000 prisoners: Michigan (down 3,260), California (down 2,395), New York (down 1,660), Mississippi (down 1,272), Texas (down 1,257), and Maryland (down 1,069). States reporting the largest increases included: Pennsylvania (up 2,214), Florida (up 1,527), Louisiana (up 1,399), Alabama (up 1,282) and Arizona (up 1,038).

The federal prison population increased by 6,838 (or 3.4%) which accounted for all of the increase in the U.S. prison population. The increase in federal prisoners was slightly less than the average annual growth of 4.1% in the federal prison population that occurred from 2000 through 2008.

By yearend 2009, the U.S. prison population (state and federal prisoners combined) reached 1,613,656, increasing by 0.2% during the year. The increase of 3,897 prisoners was the smallest annual increase during the current decade.

As of June 30, 2009, state and federal prisons and local jails had custody over 2,297,400 inmates, a decrease of 0.5 percent since yearend 2008. This decrease resulted from the 2.3 percent decline of inmates held in local jails, which hold over a third of the custodial population each year.

Midyear 2009 incarceration rates for inmates held in custody in prisons or jails differed by race and gender. Black males, with an incarceration rate of 4,749 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, were incarcerated at a rate more than six times higher than white males (708 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents) and 2.6 times higher than Hispanic males (1,822 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents). Black females (with an incarceration rate of 333 per 100,000) were more than two times as likely as Hispanic females (142 per 100,000) and over 3.6 times more likely than white females (91 per 100,000) to have been in prison or jail on June 30, 2009.

Non-U.S. citizens accounted for 4.1 percent (94,498 inmates) of the inmates held in custody in state or federal prisons. An additional 2,778 inmates held in state custody were under age 18.

The reports, Prisoners at Yearend 2009 – Advance Counts (NCJ 230189) and Prison Inmates at Midyear 2009 – Statistical Tables (NCJ 230113) were written by BJS statistician Heather C. West. Following publication, both reports can be found at the BJS Web site.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at


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The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has seven components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Community Capacity Development Office, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at




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