Three Percent of Americans Have Been To Prison- Eight Percent Have Felonies




Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.


Three percent of the total U.S. adult population and 15 percent of the African American adult male population have ever been to prison.

People with felony convictions account for 8 percent of all adults and 33 percent of the African American adult male population.

Source: Springer.Com.

Adults in Corrections More Than Tripled

The percentage of adults currently in prison or on parole in the U.S. more than tripled between 1980 and 2010, from .94 percent to 3.11 percent.

Among African American adults, that percentage rose from 3.04 percent to 9.64 percent.

Looking at 2010 alone, the percentage of all adults in prison in all states except for Alaska and Louisiana was less than 1%.

However, when filtering this data by race, the authors found that African American adults were incarcerated at rates of between 2.5 percent and 5 percent in 19 states; in Vermont, which has a low baseline population of African Americans, the incarceration rate was 8 percent.

The total percentage of current adult felons in 2010 was between 1 percent and 2.5 percent in all but 17 states.

Filtered again for race, that map changes dramatically: 20 states had an adult African American felon population of between 5 percent and 8 percent, and in two states, that number was over 8 percent.

Source: The Crime Report


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