Prison Population Reaches 1.8 Million
March 15, 1999
The U.S. Justice Department estimates that there were 1.8 million people behind bars in the U.S. as of mid-1998 -- double the number held 12 years ago.
According to the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics:
- Of the total, 1.2 million were held in prisons, with 600,000 confined in local jails.
- Prisons generally hold criminals sentenced to a year of more, while jails typically hold those awaiting trial or whose sentences are for less than a year.
- The number of inmates in state prisons grew 4.1 percent last year; in federal prisons, 8.3 percent; and in jails, 4.5 percent -- for an average year-to-year of 4.4 percent.
- The report's author said the number of have been pretty steady throughout the 1990s, with a steady increase each year.
California has the highest number of inmates at 158,742, while North Dakota has the lowest, 883. On a per capita basis, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate of any state -- 709 per 100,000 state residents. Minnesota has the lowest -- 117 per 100,000.
Source: Anne Gearan, "1.8 Million in U.S. Prisons, the Most Ever," USA Today, and Fox Butterfield, "Number of Inmates Reaches Record 1.8 Million," New York Times, both March 15, 1999.
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