Prisons today by the numbers

•Approximate number of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons and in local jails in the United States: 2,200,000 (0.7% of the US population)

– 93% are male, 7% female.
– 35% are African-American, 34% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 14% of mixed ethnicity.
– About 75% are serving sentences of 20 years or less.
– About 75% are between ages 20 and 50; 1% are juveniles.

• Eighteen states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons are at or over their maximum capacity for housing prisoners.

• About 2,900 prisoners are under death sentences, but there is a backlog of executions: fewer than 50 prisoners are generally executed per year.

• 365 juveniles were executed in the United States between 1624 and 2005, when executing minors was declared unconstitutional.

• Since 1973, 158 people have been released from death row when their innocence was proved.

• About half of state prisoners are incarcerated for violent crimes.

• About half of federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug offenses.

• Nearly half of prisoners conditionally released from federal prison and 75% of conditionally released state prisoners are rearrested within five years.

• 5.1 million people in the United States are on parole or probation. 

• The United States imprisons more than 700 people for every 100,000 citizens, the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

Sources: Federal Bureau of Prisons, US Bureau of Justice Statistics, Eastern State Penitentiary, and others.

This article is from Christian History magazine #123 Captive Faith. Read it in context here!

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #123 in 2017]

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