NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Incarceration Rates Jump

April 21, 2000

Crime rates in the U.S. have been declining for some years now. But you wouldn't know it from the latest report from the Justice Department on the number of inmates in prisons and jails.

  • The number of people behind bars in federal, state and local prisons and jails increased by 60,000 last year to 1,860,520 -- and signs point to the number topping two million by the end of 2001.
  • Black men and women were 17 times more likely than whites and twice as likely as Hispanics to have been in prison last year.
  • An estimated 11 percent of all black males nationwide, 4 percent of all Hispanics and 1.5 percent of all white males in their 20s and 30s were in prison or jail in 1999.
  • The nation's prison and jail population grew by 3 percent overall, at a time when crime fell 10 percent.

State prisons held 61 percent of the inmates, with 33 percent in local jails and 6 percent in the federal system.

California, Texas and New York recorded the highest total number of inmates. Nationally, men were nearly 12 times more likely to be incarcerated as women.

Source: Jerry Seper, "Prison Population in U.S. Expected to Top 2 Million," Washington Times, April 21, 2000.


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