One of Every 140 U.S. Residents is in Prison or Jail

The Department of Justice has released its 2003 prisoner statistics. The most astonishing figure: One of every 140 U.S. residents is now in prison or in jail.

The bulletin, "Prisoners in 2003 (NCJ-205335)," was written by BJS statisticians Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck. It can be accessed here.

There are now more than 100,000 women in our nation's prisons and jails. The women's prison rate grew 3.6%, almost twice the rate of that for men.

Other findings included in the report:

  • The total prison population is now approaching 1.5 million, up 2.1% this year.
  • As of December 31, 2003, state prisons were operating at capacity to as much as 16 percent above capacity. Federal prisons were operating at 39 percent above capacity.
  • The nation’s prison population is becoming more middle-aged. From 1995 through 2003, inmates between the ages of 40 and 54 accounted for more than 46 percent of the total growth in the U.S. prison population. Although the number of older inmates has been increasing, two-thirds of all prisoners were younger than 40 at the end of 2003.

  • More than 44 percent of all sentenced male inmates were black, and many of them were young.
  • Among the more than 1.4 million sentenced inmates at the end of 2003, an estimated 403,165 were black men between 20 and 39.
  • At the end of 2003, 9.3 percent of black men 25 to 29 were in prison, compared with 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men in the same age group.

America. Prison nation.

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