Back to top

Statistics - General

"Story Highlights: Percentage who say justice system "not tough enough" shrinks to 45%, 38% say drug crime sentencing guidelines are "too tough""

"Story Highlights: Gallup has not found a lower level of support since 57% in 1972, Support peaked at 80% in 1994, Less than half of Democrats now favor the death penalty"

"Although local jails are increasingly recognized as the “front door” to mass incarceration, justice system stakeholders and others historically have not had access to the necessary data to understand how their jail is being used and how it compares with others. To address this issue, Vera researchers developed a data tool that includes current and historical jail incarceration rates for every U.S. county. The data revealed that, since 1970, the number of people held in jail has increased from 157,000 to 690,000 in 2014—a more than four-fold increase nationwide, with growth rates highest in the smallest counties. This data also reveals wide variation in incarceration rates and racial disparities among jurisdictions of similar size, highlighting that the number of people in jail is largely the result of policy choices. With this new information in hand, policymakers can begin to make choices that are better for their communities."

At midyear 2016, about 740,700 inmates were confined in county and city jails in the United States (figure 1, table 1). The midyear jail population (i.e., the number of inmates held in custody on the last weekday in June) remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2016 and below a peak of 785,500 in 2008, which was the highest count since 1982. There were 229 jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents at midyear 2016, down from 259 per 100,000 residents at midyear 2007. Jails reported 10.6 million admissions during 2016, which was 14.5 times the size of the average daily population (ADP) in 2016 (731,300 inmates).

Findings in this report are based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ), a nationally representative survey of county or city jail jurisdictions and regional jails in the country. Started in 1982, the ASJ tracks changes in the number and characteristics of local jail inmates nationwide. It also collects annual data on jail inmate turnover, jail capacity and space usage by other authorities.

"Wait, does the United States have 1.3 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but varying definitions make it hard — for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks — to get the big picture.

This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities."

"With court data hard to come by, Measures for Justice is working with counties in six states to provide transparency at every step in the process—from arrest to post-resolution."

"With a few hyper-localized exceptions that require targeted attention, violent crime rates are lower today than they have been at any point over the past four decades. However, this era of public safety has been misrepresented by some media reports and public commentary concluding that violent crime increases in a few cities equal a sweeping national problem. This brief examines those erroneous conclusions about current crime trends—using both existing and original research—and describes how to avoid common pitfalls when interpreting statistics on violent crime."

With a few hyper-localized exceptions that require targeted attention, violent crime rates are lower today than they have been at any point over the past four decades. However, this era of public safety has been misrepresented by some media reports and public commentary concluding that violent crime increases in a few cities equal a sweeping national problem. This brief examines those erroneous conclusions about current crime trends—using both existing and original research—and describes how to avoid common pitfalls when interpreting statistics on violent crime.

"Over the five-year period from 2010 to 2015, the nation’s imprisonment rate fell 8.4 percent while the combined violent and property crime rate declined 14.6 percent, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice. Thirty-one states cut both rates simultaneously."

Assessing and targeting criminal justice reforms requires an up-to-date view of the number of people in state and federal prisons. The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects this data, but their reports lag prison populations by a year or more.

In order to get an earlier glimpse at these numbers, Vera researchers collected information directly from states and the federal Bureau of Prisons to estimate the number of people in prison at the end of 2017. The data revealed that the recent trend of decreasing prison incarceration continued in 2017, with the total U.S. prison population dropping below 1.5 million for the first time since 2004. Despite the overall declines, 20 states increased their prison population, leaving 10 states with all-time-high numbers of people in prison. 

Despite the national reduction in the prison population, more work is required to unwind mass incarceration.

Pages

Subscribe to Statistics - General