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Prisoners in 1999

EMBARGOED UNTIL 4:30 P.M. EDT                                          BJS
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9,  2000                                    202/307-0784  

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   During 1999, the nation's prison population
rose at the lowest rate since 1979 and recorded the smallest absolute
increase since 1988, according to a bulletin released today by the
Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The prison
population growth slowed to 3.4 percent last year--less than the
average annual amount of 6.5 percent during the 1990-1999 period. 
     At the end of the year, there were more than 2 million people
held in some type of incarceration.  The 2,026,596 people behind
bars were held as follows:
     -- 1,284,894 in state and federal prisons (this excludes state
	    prisoners held in local jails).
     -- 18,394 in territorial prisons.
     -- 605,943 in local jails.
     -- 7,675 in facilities operated by (or exclusively for) the U.S.
        Immigration and Naturalization Service.
     -- 2,279 in military facilities.
     -- 1,621 in American Indian country jails.
     -- 105,790 in juvenile facilities (as of October 29, 1997). 
     At the end of last year the nation's prisons held 476 inmates
sentenced to at least a year's confinement per 100,000 U.S. residents
equivalent to 1 in every 110 men and 1 in every 1,695 women. 
     About 1 in every 11 black males in their late twenties was serving a
sentence of a year or more in a state or federal prison.  At the end of
last year African-Americans constituted 46 percent of all inmates with
sentences of one year or more, white inmates accounted for 33 percent
of such inmates and Hispanics 18 percent.
     From 1990 to 1999 the rate of imprisonment of those serving a year
or more increased by 60 percent among males and 84 percent among females.
     The total number of prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and
federal authorities reached 1,366,721 by the end of 1999.  The states
and the District of Columbia added 31,591 prisoners, and the federal
system added 12,205.        
     Since 1990 the prison population has increased by 77 percent an
increase of almost 600,000 inmates.  Factors contributing to the
1990-1998 growth in the state prison population included:
     -- A 54 percent increase in the number of parole violators returning
        to prison.
     -- A 7 percent increase in new court commitments.   
     -- An increase in the average time served in prison by released
        inmates from 22 months in 1990 to 28 months in 1998.
     -- An increase in the time expected to be served by those entering
        prison from 38 months to 43 months.
     -- An increase in violent offenders, who accounted for 51 percent
        of the state growth, and drug offenders, who made up 19 percent 
        of the state growth.
     On December 31, 1999, privately operated facilities held 71,208
prisoners (5.2 percent of state and federal inmates).  Local jails held 63,635
state inmates (5.2 percent of state prisoners).
     As of the same date, state prisons were operating at between 1 percent
and 17 percent over capacity.  Federal prisons were operating at 32 percent
above capacity.
     During 1999 two states Idaho (up 13 percent) and Wisconsin (up 11
percent) reported prison population increases of at least 10 percent.  Nine
jurisdictions experienced a decline, led by Rhode Island (down 13 percent)
and the District of Columbia (down 12 percent).
     Texas (with 163,190 inmates) operated the largest prison system as of
the end of last year, followed by California (163,067) and the federal system
(135,246).  Louisiana (with 776 prisoners per 100,000 state residents
sentenced to at least a year's imprisonment) and Texas (with 762) had the
highest incarceration rates.  Minnesota (125 per 100,000) and Maine (133)
had the lowest.
     Between 1990 and 1999 nine states more than doubled their prison
populations, led by Texas (up 173 percent), Idaho (up 147 percent) and West
Virginia (up 126 percent).  During the same period the federal prison system
(up 127 percent) added almost 64,000 prisoners serving a year or more.
     The bulletin, "Prisoners in 1999" (NCJ-183476), was written by BJS
statistician Allen J. Beck.  Single copies may be obtained from the BJS fax-
on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550, listening to the complete menu
and selecting document number 211.  Or call the BJS clearinghouse at 1-800-
732-3277.  Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/492-4358.  The full report may
be obtained from the BJS Internet site at:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office
of Justice Programs Website at:

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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

end of file 
8/8/00  pm
Date Published: August 9, 2000