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Report: Imprisonment rate of sentenced state and federal prisoners and the U.S. violent crime rate, 1985-2017


State and federal imprisonment rate and the U.S. violent crime rate, 1985-2017

Reports: Prisoners in 2017 and Crime in the United States


  • The imprisonment rate for sentenced prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction rose 152% from 1985 to 2007 (from 201 to 506 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents) and then fell 13% from 2007 to 2017 (from 506 to 440), to reach its lowest point since 1996.

  • According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, the violent crime rate rose from 1985 to 1991, peaking at 758 reported violent crimes per 100,000 U.S. residents.

  • Based on the UCR, the violent crime rate in 2014 was the lowest in recent decades, at 362 reported crimes per 100,000 residents, a 52% reduction from the high point in 1991.

  • The 7% increase in the violent crime rate from 2014 to 2016, per the UCR, was the largest increase over a 2-year period in a quarter-century (since the increase from 1989 to 1991).

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Date Published: June 3, 2020