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Criminal Offenders Statistics
Prevalence of imprisonment in the United States
Lifetime likelihood of going to State or Federal prison
Characteristics of State Prison inmates
Characteristics of jail inmates
Comparing Federal and State prison inmates
Sex offenders
Child victimizers
Intimate victimizers
Use of alcohol by convicted offenders
Women offenders
Prevalence of imprisonment in the United States

• As of December 31, 2001, there were an estimated 5.6 million adults who had ever served time in State or Federal prison, including 4.3 million former prisoners and 1.3 million adults in prison.
• Nearly a third of former prisoners were still under correctional supervision, including 731,000 on parole, 437,000 on probation, and 166,000 in local jails.
• In 2001, an estimated 2.7% of adults in the U.S. had served time in prison, up from 1.8% in 1991 and 1.3% in 1974.
• The prevalence of imprisonment in 2001 was higher for
   -- black males (16.6%) and Hispanic males (7.7%) than for white males (2.6%)
   -- black females (1.7%) and Hispanic females (0.7%) than white females (0.3%)
• Nearly two-thirds of the 3.8 million increase in the number of adults ever incarcerated between 1974 and 2001 occurred as a result of an increase in first incarceration rates; one-third occurred as a result of an increase in the number of residents age 18 and older.

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Lifetime likelihood of going to State or Federal prison

• If recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 of every 15 persons (6.6%) will serve time in a prison during their lifetime.
• Lifetime chances of a person going to prison are higher for
   -- men (11.3%) than for women (1.8%)
   -- blacks (18.6%) and Hispanics (10%) than for whites (3.4%)
• Based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 32% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17% of Hispanic males and 5.9% of white males.

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Characteristics of State Prison inmates

• Women were 6.6% of the State prison inmates in 2001, up from 6% in 1995.
• Sixty-four percent of prison inmates belonged to racial or ethnic minorities in 2001.
• An estimated 57% of inmates were under age 35 in 2001.
• About 4% of State prison inmates were not U.S. citizens at yearend 2001.
• About 6% of State prison inmates were held in private facilities at yearend 2001.
• Altogether, an estimated 57% of inmates had a high school diploma or its equivalent.
• Among the State prison inmates in 2000:
   -- nearly half were sentenced for a violent crime (49%)
   -- a fifth were sentenced for a property crime (20%)
   -- about a fifth were sentenced for a drug crime (21%)

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Characteristics of jail inmates


• Women were 12% of the local jail inmates in 2002, up from 10% in 1996.
• Jail inmates were older on average in 2002 than 1996: 38% were age 35 or older, up from 32% in 1996.
• More than 6 in 10 persons in local jails in 2002 were racial or ethnic minorities, unchanged from 1996.
• An estimated 40% were black; 19%, Hispanic, 1% American Indian; 1% Asian; and 3% of more than one race/ethnicity.

Conviction Offense

• Half of jail inmates in 2002 were held for a violent or drug offense, almost unchanged from 1996.
• Drug offenders, up 37%, represented the largest source of jail population growth between 1996 and 2002.
• More than two-thirds of the growth in inmates held in local jails for drug law violations was due to an increase in persons charged with drug trafficking.
• Thirty-seven percent of jail inmates were convicted on a new charge; 18% were convicted on prior charges following revocation of probation or parole; 16% were both convicted of a prior charge and awaiting trial on a new charge; and 28% were unconvicted.

Criminal History

• Fifty-three percent of jail inmates were on probation, parole or pretrial release at the time of arrest.
• Four in 10 jail inmates had a current or past sentence for a violent offense.
• Thirty-nine percent of jail inmates in 2002 had served 3 or more prior sentences to incarceration or probation, down from 44% in 1996.

Substance Use and Treatment

• Half (50%) of convicted jail inmates were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense, down from 59% in 1996.
• Three out of every four convicted jail inmates were alcohol or drugs-involved at the time of their current offense.
• Alcohol use at the time of the offense dropped from 41% (1996) to 35% (2002), while drug use dropped from 35% to 29%.
• Average sentence length of inmates serving their time in a local jail increased from 22 months in 1996 to 24 months in 2002.
• Time expected to be served in jail dropped from 10 months in 1996 to 9 months, in 2002

Family background

• Thirty-one percent of jail inmates had grown up with a parent or guardian who abused alcohol or drugs
• About 12 percent had lived in a foster home or institution.
• Forty-six percent had a family member who had been incarcerated.
• More than 50% of the women in jail said they had been physically or sexually abused in the past, compared to more than 10% of the men.

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Comparing Federal and State prison inmates

• In 1997, Federal inmates were more likely than State inmates to be
   -- women (7% vs. 6%)
   -- Hispanic (27% vs. 17%)
   -- age 45 or older (24% vs. 13%)
   -- with some college education (18% vs. 11%)
   -- noncitizens (18% vs. 5%)
• In 2000, an estimated 57% of Federal inmates and 21% of State inmates were serving a sentence for a drug offense; about 10% of Federal inmates and 49% of State inmates were in prison for a violent offense.
• Violent offenders accounted for 53% of the growth in State prisons between 1990 to 2000, drug offenders accounted for 59% of the growth in Federal prisons.

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• Of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% resentenced to prison for a new crime.
• The 272,111 offenders discharged in 1994 accounted for nearly 4,877,000 arrest charges over their recorded careers.
• Within 3 years of release, 2.5% of released rapists were rearrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for a new homicide.
• Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense –– 43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders.
• Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison –– 5.3 percent of sex offenders versus 1.3 percent of non-sex offenders.

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Sex offenders

• On a given day in 1994 there were approximately 234,000 offenders convicted of rape or sexual assault under the care, custody, or control of corrections agencies; nearly 60% of these sex offenders are under conditional supervision in the community.
• The median age of the victims of imprisoned sexual assaulters was less than 13 years old; the median age of rape victims was about 22 years.
• An estimated 24% of those serving time for rape and 19% of those serving time for sexual assault had been on probation or parole at the time of the offense for which they were in State prison in 1991.
• Of the 9,691 male sex offenders released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, 5.3% were rearrested for a new sex crime within 3 years of release.
• Of released sex offenders who allegedly committed another sex crime, 40% perpetrated the new offense within a year or less from their prison discharge.

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Child victimizers

• Approximately 4,300 child molesters were released from prisons in 15 States in 1994. An estimated 3.3% of these 4,300 were rearrested for another sex crime against a child within 3 years of release from prison.
• Among child molesters released from prison in 1994, 60% had been in prison for molesting a child 13 years old or younger.
• Offenders who had victimized a child were on average 5 years older than the violent offenders who had committed their crimes against adults. Nearly 25% of child victimizers were age 40 or older, but about 10% of the inmates with adult victims fell in that age range.

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Intimate victimizers

• About 4 in 10 inmates serving time in jail for intimate violence had a criminal justice status -- on probation or parole or under a restraining order -- at the time of the violent attack on an intimate.
• About 1 in 4 convicted violent offenders confined in local jails had committed their crime against an intimate; about 7% of State prisoners serving time for violence had an intimate victim.
• About half of all offenders convicted of intimate violence and confined in a local jail or a State prison had been drinking at the time of the offense. Jail inmates who had been drinking prior to the intimate violence consumed an average amount of ethanol equivalent to 10 beers.
• About 8 in 10 inmates serving time in State prison for intimate violence had injured or killed their victim.

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Use of alcohol by convicted offenders

• Among the 5.3 million convicted offenders under the jurisdiction of corrections agencies in 1996, nearly 2 million, or about 36%, were estimated to have been drinking at the time of the offense. The vast majority, about 1.5 million, of these alcohol-involved offenders were sentenced to supervision in the community: 1.3 million on probation and more than 200,000 on parole.
• Alcohol use at the time of the offense was commonly found among those convicted of public-order crimes, a type of offense most highly represented among those on probation and in jail. Among violent offenders, 41% of probationers, 41 of those in local jails, 38% of those in State prisons, and 20% of those in Federal prisons were estimated to have been drinking when they committed the crime.

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Women offenders

• In 1998 there were an estimated 3.2 million arrests of women, accounting for 22% of all arrests that year.
• Based on self-reports of victims of violence, women account for 14% of violent offenders, an annual average of about 2.1 million violent female offenders.
• Women accounted for about 16% of all felons convicted in State courts in 1996: 8% of convicted violent felons, 23% of property felons, and 17% of drug felons.
• In 1998 more than 950,000 women were under correctional supervision, about 1% of the U.S. female population.

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Information Provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics

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