U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Your Source for Criminal Justice Statistics
Learn more about BJS

Data by Topic

Access the latest datasets and documentation by topic.

Open Funding Opportunities

Find FY21 Funding opportunities available from BJS.

Data Analysis Tools

Access data tools and dashboards featuring custom datasets and visualizations.

Learn about BJS Research

Discover BJS 3rd party reports and other research papers.

COVID-19 Spurs 25% Drop in Inmates Held in Local Jails

Number of inmates confined in local jails from June 2019 to June 2020

Special Report: Impact of COVID-19 on the Local Jail Population, January-June 2020

Note: Data are last weekday in June 2019 and the last weekday for each month from January to June 2020. In full report, see table 1 for counts and appendix table 1 for standard errors.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of Jails, 2019; and Annual Survey of Jails, 2020

  • From March to June 2020, about 208,500 inmates received expedited release in response to COVID-19.

  • During the pandemic, jail facilities became less crowded, as indicated by the decrease in occupied bed space from 81% at midyear 2019 to 60% at midyear 2020.

  • The number of inmates held for a misdemeanor declined about 45% since midyear 2019, outpacing the decline in the number of inmates held for a felony (down 18%).

  • The percentage of inmates held for a felony increased from 70% at midyear 2019 to 77% at midyear 2020.

  • From March to June 2020, jails conducted 215,360 inmate COVID-19 tests. More than 11% of these tests were positive.

Learn about BJS Programs

Learn about BJS Programs

Learn about BJS programs and initiatives.
Learn about Funding

Learn about Funding

BJS funding programs support improvement of the criminal record-keeping of states and local governments.
Access Resources

Access Resources

Access our FAQs, terms and definitions, and related links.
Browse all Topics

Browse all Topics

Find publications, data, and other information on a wide variety of criminal justice topics.

BJS Twitter

BJS Facebook