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Prisoners in 2002

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
SUNDAY, JULY 27, 2003 Contact: Stu Smith


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The country's prisons, jails and juvenile facilities held 2,166,260 persons at the end of last year, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) said in a report released today. This incarcerated population was held in federal, state, and local facilities as follows:

State prisons 1,209,640
Federal prisons 151,618
Local jails (as of June 30, 2002) 665,475
Juvenile facilities, public and private (as of October 2000) 110,284
U.S. territorial prisons 16,206
Bureau of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (BICE)* 8,748
Military facilities 2,377
Indian country jails (as of June 30, 2001) 1,912
*BICE is the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service

During 2002 the 2.6 percent growth in the number of inmates under state and federal jurisdiction was more than twice the 2001 growth (1.1 percent) but less than the average annual growth of 3.6 percent since year-end 1995. The 2002 prisoner increase was equal to an additional 700 more inmates every week during the year. At the end of last year there were 476 inmates serving sentences of at least one year in federal or state prisons per 100,000 U.S. residents -- up from 411 inmates in 1995. About 1 in every 143 U.S. residents were in state or federal prison or a local jail, as of last December 31.

As of December 31, 2002, 97,491 women were in federal or state prison, making 6.8 percent of all prison inmates. Since 1995 the number of female prisoners has grown 42 percent, while the number of male prisoners has increased 27 percent.

The number of inmates held in federal prisons rose 4.2 percent during 2002 -- compared to a 2.4 percent increase in state prison inmates. At year-end 2002, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with 163,528 prisoners, was larger than any state prison system.

Seventeen states reported increases of at least 5 percent in their prison populations during 2002. Maine experienced the largest increase (up 11.5 percent), followed by Rhode Island (up 8.6 percent). Nine states had decreases, led by Alaska (down 3.8 percent) and Illinois (down 3.7 percent).

Overall, state prisons were operating between 1 percent and 16 percent over capacity at year-end 2002, while the federal system was 33 percent over capacity. About 71,000 offenders (approximately 5 percent of prisoners) who had been sentenced to state or federal prisons were being held in local jails.

Privately operated prisons held 93,771 inmates, representing 5.8 percent of all state prisoners and 12.4 percent of federal prisoners. New Mexico, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming and Oklahoma each held at least a quarter of their prisoners in privately run facilities.

As of December 31, 2002, black males from 20 to 39 years old accounted for about a third of all sentenced prison inmates under state or federal jurisdiction. On that date 10.4 percent of the country's black male population between the ages of 25 to 29 were in prison, compared to 2.4 percent of Hispanic males and 1.2 percent of white males in the same age group.

On December 31, 2001, 49 percent of all state prisoners were serving time for violent crime. Between 1995 and 2001, the increase in violent offenders accounted for 64 percent of male state prisoner growth and 49 percent of female prisoner growth.

Growth in the federal system from 1995 to 2001 (up 61 percent) is attributed largely to the increase in drug offenders (accounting for 48 percent of the total growth) and immigration offenders (21 percent of the increase).

The data are from the bulletin "Prisoners in 2002" (NCJ-200248) written by BJS statisticians Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-851-3420. In addition, this document can be accessed at:


BJS media calls should be directed to Stu Smith in OJP's Office of Communications at [email protected] or 202-307-0784. After hours: 301-983-9354.

For additional information about Bureau of Justice Statistics statistical reports programs, please see the BJS website at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises 5 component bureaus and 2 offices: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime as well as the Executive Office for Weed and Seed and the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education. Information about OJP programs, publications, and conferences is available on the OJP Web site, www.ojp.usdoj.gov. 

Date Published: July 27, 2003