Female Incarceration Growth is Five Times USA Population Growth

In a previous article, I provided details on the increases in prison population through mid 2004.   This article deals with information through the end of 2004, adds in those under community supervision, and compares growth in these areas to USA’s population growth for the same time frame.

On November 2, 2005, the Houston Chronicle printed an AP article by REBECCA CARROLL stating that “Nearly 7 million adults were in U.S. prisons or on probation or parole at the end of last year, 30 percent more than in 1995 …”. Details were provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in a news release, “The nation’s total correctional population was 6,996,500 in 2004, of which 4,151,125 were living in the community on probation; 1,421,911 were in a state or federal prison; 765,355 were living in the community on parole; and 713,990 were in [local] jail[s] ….   The number has grown by more than 1.6 million adults under correctional authority control since 1995.”   That is a 10 year growth of 29.6%.

Relative to prisoners only, another BJS press release included this additional detail, “As of December 31, 2004, there were 2,267,787 people behind bars in the United States, of which 1,421,911 were held in federal and state prisons (not including the 74,378 state and federal inmates incarcerated in local jails), 713,990 in local jails, 102,338 in juvenile facilities, 15,757 in U.S.   Territory prisons, 9,788 in Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, 2,177 in military prisons and 1,826 in Indian country jails (as of June 30, 2003).”

The second BJS press release also included the following, “The nation’s incarceration rate rose from 411 sentenced inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents in 1995 to 486 inmates per 100,000 at the end of last year [2004] – an 18 percent increase.   (A ‘sentenced’ prisoner is an inmate serving a sentence of more than a year.)”   The report also showed a 53 percent growth in the number of women prisoners, “As of December 31, 2004, 104,848 women were held in state and federal prisons – up from 68,468 in 1995.”

However, these changes need to be placed in the context of population growth of the nation as a whole.   According to Census.gov, the July 1, 1995, estimated residential population was 266,278,393.   According to another Census.gov report, the July 1, 2004 estimated USA population was 293,655,404.   This 10 year growth in population was 10.3 percent.   That’s one half the rate of total prisoner growth, one third the rate of prisoners plus those on parole or probation, and one fifth the rate of growth for female prisoners!!!



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About Andy Hailey

Vietnam Vet, UT El Paso Grad, Retired Aerospace Engineer, former union rep, 60's Republican now progressive, web admin, blogger.

One Response to Female Incarceration Growth is Five Times USA Population Growth

  1. Andy Hailey says:

    I have added this comment on behalf of a friend:

    > Hi, Andy —
    > I think that much of the tough “zero tolerance”, and
    > “3 strikes” policies have exacerbated this problem.
    > That, and the fact that funding for social service
    > programs has been declining for over 20 years (since
    > the Reagan era) while funding for criminal and
    > juvenile justice services has been sharply
    > increased.
    > Today the largest provider of mental health services
    > in the US is the criminal justice system, and they
    > do a piss-poor job of it. The federal and state
    > governments, under the guise of getting tough on
    > crime and cutting social services, transferred money
    > from one to the other.
    > The problem is that within the criminal justice
    > community, there is an emphasis on punishment, and
    > not on rehabilitation. I recently finished managing
    > a federal grant that paid for substance abuse
    > treatment on an outpatient basis. The governing
    > board for the project included a criminal district
    > court judge, assistant DA, the head of the County’s
    > community supervision (probation / parole)
    > department, and one of his staff members. All of
    > these people had a “punishment” mentality that got
    > in the way of them seeing that people who need
    > treatment can’t effectively be “punished” into
    > treatment.
    > I think that the general (voting) public contributes
    > to this because they prefer to keep themselves
    > ignorant about the criminal justice system and its
    > victims. I am sure you have heard Geoffrey complain
    > that a poor person arrested for a crime and that who
    > relies on the public defender system is budgeted
    > $500 for a defense investigation, while the DA has
    > an unlimited budget for the prosecution’s
    > investigation. This leads to a situation where poor
    > people are not adequately defenced, and end up going
    > to prison.
    > Recently Geoffrey had a criminal defense case where
    > the person charged with the crime was very slow
    > mentally. She could not separate the situation that
    > she had been arrested for from what she considered
    > to be a series of poor decisions she had made
    > throughout her life. So, she saw her current
    > situation as punishment for bad things she did 20
    > years ago, and was not helping her own defense much
    > as she was dwelling on the past. She is common in
    > today’s prisons — people with limited intellectual
    > capacity, people who test in the range for mental
    > retardation, and people with psychiatric disorders
    > that cloud their thinking. In fact, it is probable
    > that this woman was set up by a sharper person to
    > “take the fall” if the police arrived, as they did.
    > What bothers me is that the prisons are stuffed full
    > of these people who do petty crimes — buying drugs
    > or selling drugs, holding up a store or bank,
    > robbing a house — basically crimes that do have
    > victims, but only a few victims. Meanwhile, people
    > like Ken Lay, whose crimes ruined thousands of
    > people’s future, walk around in expensive suits. I
    > think that criminals like Ken Lay are much more
    > dangerous to society than the dimwit that holds up a
    > convenience store.
    > On well.
    > L