Females in American Jails Increase 11 Percent. Males Decrease

Old prison jail cells

After a peak in the number of inmates confined in county and city jails at midyear 2008 (785,533), the jail population was significantly lower by midyear 2013 (731,208).

The jail incarceration rate—the confined population per 100,000 U.S. residents—declined between midyear 2012 (237 per 100,000) and 2013 (231 per 100,000). This decline continues a downward trend from a high of 259 jail inmates per 100,000 residents in 2007.

Local jails admitted an estimated 11.7 million persons during the 12-month period ending June 30, 2013, remaining stable since 2011 (11.8 million) and down from a peak of 13.6 million admissions in 2008.

More than a third of admissions during the last week of June 2013 were to the largest jail jurisdictions, or those jails with an average daily population of 1,000 or more inmates. In comparison, jail jurisdictions holding fewer than 50 inmates accounted for about 7 percent of all jail admissions.  The largest jails held 48 percent of the jail population at midyear 2013, but accounted for 6 percent of all jail jurisdictions nationwide.

Males represented at least 86 percent of the jail population since 2000. The female inmate population increased 10.9 percent (up 10,000 inmates) between midyear 2010 and 2013, while the male population declined 4.2 percent (down 27,500 inmates). The female jail population grew by an average of about 1 percent each year between 2005 and 2013. In comparison, the male jail population declined an annual average of less than 1 percent every year since 2005.

White inmates accounted for 47 percent of the total jail population, blacks represented 36 percent and Hispanics represented 15 percent at midyear 2013. An estimated 4,600 juveniles were held in local jails (less than 1 percent of the confined population), down from 5,400 during the same period in 2012.

At midyear 2013, about 6 in 10 inmates were not convicted, but were in jail awaiting court action on a current charge—a rate unchanged since 2005. About 4 in 10 inmates were sentenced offenders or convicted offenders awaiting sentencing. From the first significant decline in the overall jail population since midyear 2009, the unconvicted population (down 24,000 inmates) outpaced the decline in the convicted inmate population (down 12,000 inmates).

Jails operated at 82 percent of capacity at midyear 2013, the lowest percentage since 1984 (86 percent). Rated capacity in jails reached 891,271 beds at midyear 2013, an increase of 1.6 percent (up 13,875 beds) from 877,396 beds at midyear 2012. The increase between midyear 2012 and 2013 was smaller than the average annual increase each year between 2000 and 2012 (up 2.2 percent, or 19,003 beds).

The report, Jail Inmates at Midyear 2013 – Statistical Tables (NCJ 245350), was written by BJS statisticians Todd D. Minton and Daniela Golinelli, Ph.D. The report, related documents and additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at http://www.bjs.gov/.


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