Make CNN.com Your Start-up page!
Click Here
ad info
Click Here

CNNin
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 SCI-TECH
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 PATHFINDER SITES:

 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:



 
US

U.S. imprisonment rate doubles over 12 years

graphic

March 14, 1999
Web posted at: 8:50 p.m. EST (0150 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The number of American adults behind bars has grown steadily in the past several years, and now the United States is creeping toward Russia's No. 1 spot as the country with the highest rate of incarceration.

The number of U.S. prisoners reached its highest level ever last year, the Justice Department said Sunday.

At mid-1998, jails and prisons held an estimated 1.8 million people, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report. Just 12 years ago, at the end of 1985, the total was less than half that number -- 744,208.

There were 668 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents in June last year, compared with 313 inmates per 100,000 people in 1985.

Factoid:

  • The number of people behind bars grew by 4.4 percent from June 1997 to June 1998.

  • Men were 89 percent of the inmates.

  • The largest jail populations were in Los Angeles, with more than 21,000 inmates; New York City, with nearly 17,700 inmates; and Chicago, with more than 9,300 inmates.

  • About two-thirds of the nation's prisoners, or 1.2 million people, are in state and federal prisons; the remaining one-third, or 600,000 people, are in local jails. Prisons generally hold convicted criminals sentenced to terms longer than one year, while jails typically keep those awaiting trial and those sentenced to 12 months or less.

  • The nation's jails added more than 26,000 beds over the past year and were filled to 97 percent of capacity by June 1998.

  • Authorities supervised more than 72,000 men and women in the community by electronic monitoring, home detention or work release.

  • In Russia, 685 people out of every 100,000 are behind bars, according to The Sentencing Project, a U.S. group critical of the trend toward harsher sentencing of American criminals.

    A planned amnesty of 100,000 prisoners in Russia and continued increases in the U.S. inmate population mean the United States probably will become the world's leading jailer "in a year or two," said Jenni Gainsborough, a Sentencing Project spokeswoman.

    The national jail population was 41 percent white, 41 percent African-American, 16 percent Hispanic and 2 percent other ethnicities, including Asians and American Indians.

    The number of people behind bars grew by 4.4 percent from June 1997 to June 1998.

    Men were 89 percent of the inmates.

    The largest jail populations were in Los Angeles, with more than 21,000 inmates; New York City, with nearly 17,700 inmates; and Chicago, with more than 9,300 inmates.

    About two-thirds of the nation's prisoners, or 1.2 million people, are in state and federal prisons; the remaining one-third, or 600,000 people, are in local jails. Prisons generally hold convicted criminals sentenced to terms longer than one year, while jails typically keep those awaiting trial and those sentenced to 12 months or less.

    The nation's jails added more than 26,000 beds over the past year and were filled to 97 percent of capacity by June 1998.

    Authorities supervised more than 72,000 men and women in the community by electronic monitoring, home detention or work release.

    The number of people imprisoned in the United States has grown for more than a quarter-century, topping 1 million in 1990. Experts have attributed the increases primarily to more drug prosecutions and tougher sentencing laws.

    Between the end of 1990 and mid-1998, the incarcerated population grew an average 6.2 percent annually, said statistician Darrell Gilliard, author of the Justice Department report.

    Although the growth rate was slower last year, Gilliard said the difference is not statistically significant.

    "The numbers have been pretty steady throughout the 1990s, with a pretty steady increase every year," he said.

    Gilliard's report showed the number of inmates in state prisons grew 4.1 percent last year; the number in federal prisons grew 8.3 percent; and the number in local jails grew 4.5 percent.

    The figures closely track numbers released last summer that showed 5.2 percent growth in federal and state prisons by the end of 1997.

    The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


    RELATED STORIES:
    Russian female prisons crowding

    RELATED SITES:
    Prison News: Women Prisoners
    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

     LATEST HEADLINES:

    WORLD:
    Paris peace talks resume as rockets fire in Kosovo
    Ambon residents to be shot if they don't yield weapons, Indonesia military says
    Trial of WW II concentration camp commander resumes
    US:
    East Coast braces for more snow, as highways turn treacherous
    U.S. imprisonment rate doubles over 12 years
    Parental kidnapping on the rise, says group
    SCI TECH:
    Justice Department won't oppose AOL, Netscape merger
    Dole campaign to accept contributions online
    ENTERTAINMENT:
    'Analyze This' rubs out newcomers
    SPORTS:
    Bearcats, Utes, 'Canes, 49ers and Vols fall victim to upsets
    Rodman absent as Kings snap Lakers' winning streak
    Gordon wins Cracker Barrel 500
    BUSINESS:
    Fleet, BankBoston to merge
    A kinder, gentler IRS?
    Dow 10,000 next week?

    Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

    Today on CNN
    SEARCH CNN.com
    Enter keyword(s)   go    help

    Back to the top   © 1999 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines.