Incarceration in the US Increases

American Flag


Despite a decade of debate over the use (or overuse) of jails and prisons in the United States, incarceration (based on raw numbers of adults in prisons and jails) in 2014 increased slightly (up 1,900).  2014 is the latest available data.

There are an endless number of organizations calling for less incarceration; some advocate a reduction of 50 percent. The question becomes “why” their arguments haven’t gained traction.

With over twenty years of almost continuous reductions in crime, one would think that national decreases in the prison and jail populations would be more robust.

With the prospect of increasing crime in America (see Violent and Property Crime in the US–Crime in America at the opportunities for less incarceration (based on raw numbers) may be fading.

The rate of incarceration, however, is at record lows when comparing 2004 to 2014 data.

When all forms of correctional supervision are included, there have been reductions, specifically as it applies to probation, which is probably a result of historically low rates of crime throughout the United States.

All Forms of Correctional Supervision:

At year end 2014, an estimated 6,851,000 persons were under the supervision of U.S. adult correctional systems, a decline of about 52,200 from 6,903,200 at year end 2013. This figure includes probation, parole, jail and prison populations for adults.

After peaking at 7,399,600 persons in 2007, the correctional population decreased each year by an average of 1.0%, mostly driven by a reduction in probationers.

By yearend 2014, the population declined by 0.8% to the lowest level observed in more than a decade (6,886,800 in 2003).

Rate of Correctional Supervision:

About 1 in 36 adults in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2014. This was the lowest rate observed since 1996 (5,531,300) when about 1.3 million fewer offenders were under correctional supervision.

The Report:

The report summarizes data from several Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) correctional data collections to provide statistics on the total population supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States.

These systems include offenders living in the community while supervised by probation or parole agencies and those under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or held in local jails.


The incarcerated population (up 1,900) slightly increased during 2014. „There was a small increase in the jail population (1.8%) followed by a small decrease in the prison population (1.0%).

Adult correctional systems supervised an estimated 6,851,000 persons at year end 2014, about 52,200 fewer offenders than at yearend 2013. „

About 1 in 36 adults (or 2.8% of adults in the United States) was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2014, the lowest rate since 1996. „

The correctional population has declined by an annual average of 1.0% since 2007. „

The community supervision population (down 1.0%) continued to decline during 2014, accounting for all of the decrease in the correctional population. „

Between 2007 and 2014, about 88% of the decrease in the correctional population (down 488,600 offenders) was attributed to the decline in the probation population. „

Seven jurisdictions accounted for almost half (48%) of the U.S. correctional population at yearend 2014. „


%d bloggers like this: