May 27, 2006

What's 738? - Our Imprisonment Rate

The latest BJS report, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 , reveals that the U.S. incarceration rate (people incarcerated divided by population multiplied times 100,000) has increased to all all-time high of 738, with the federal government's leadership. The incarceration rate grew at a combined 3.4% annual rate from 1995 to 2005, including increases in federal (7.4%), state (2.5%) and jail (3.9%) populations. Table 1, taken from the report, shows over two million one hundred and eighty five thousand inmates in custody, for an overall rate of 738 per 100,000 population.

The incarceration rate for the Western region is 421--it is 456 for California--with the latter's 170,000+ inmates and close to ten billion dollar budget coming out of the general fund. Of all the Western states, only Arizona's rate is higher (502). However, it is important to note that, "In general,racial and ethnic disparities in California’s criminal justice system resemble those found in the United States as a whole. However, African Americans in California are more likely to be under the control of the criminal justice system than African Americans nationwide" (Chapter 8, Crime and Criminal Justice" in A Portrait of Race and Ethniciity in California.

Then there are vastly different rates of incarceration by gender and race. See below:

Click this for Table 13

The BJS report data are not broken down enough to ascertain whether the West has disproportionate representation of blacks and hispanics than other regions.

Posted by jackson at May 27, 2006 06:37 AM