U.S. Prisons in 1993-1994

From an April 30, 1995, release by the U.S. Department of Justice:

The nation's jails hold record 490,442 inmates

The nation's local jails held a record 490,442 men and women as of last June 30, the Department of Justice announced today. During the 12 months preceding June 30, 1994, the jail population grew 6.7 percent -- less than the 7.5 percent average annual increase for the 1983-1993 period.

During the last decade the nation's jail population has almost doubled on a per capita basis. In mid-1994 the number of jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents was 188--up from 96 in 1983.

Local jails, which are operated by counties and municipalities, housed one-third of the almost 1.5 million people incarcerated in the U.S. in mid-1994--the other two-thirds were in state or federal prisons.

The Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that the reasons for the jail population increase during the last decade include a growth in adult arrests, a rise in the number of felons sentenced to serve time in a local jail and a growth in the number of people being held in jails because of state or federal prison crowding. Moreover, jail inmates held for drug offenses grew faster than did other types of offenders.

As of last June, the nation's jails were operating at 97 percent capacity despite a near doubling of the number of beds since 1983. The largest facilities, those with an average daily population of 500 or more inmates, were the most crowded-- operating overall at more than 100 percent of capacity. More than half of the nation's jail inmates were housed in these large facilities. The smallest facilities, with an average of fewer than 50 inmates, were the least crowded--operating at 67 percent of capacity.

Thirty-nine percent of the inmates were white non-Hispanics, 44 percent were black non-Hispanics, 15 percent were Hispanics of any race and 2 percent were non-Hispanics of other races. Relative to the number of residents in the U.S. population, black non-Hispanics were more than twice as likely as Hispanics, almost seven times more likely than white non-Hispanics and more than nine times more likely than people of other races to have been held in a local jail last June 30. Among the 483,717 adult inmates there were 434,838 men and 48,879 women.

Approximately 6,725 people being held in jails were younger than 18 years old--about 5,100 had been convicted as adults orwere being held for trial in adult criminal courts, and approximately 1,500 were being held as juveniles.

Based on data collected from each of the nation's 3,300 jails, five states held almost half of all local jail inmates-- California with 69,298; Texas, 55,395; Florida, 34,183; New York, 29,809 and Georgia, 22,663.

Twenty-one states reported a jail population that more than doubled between 1983 and 1993, with growth ranging from 103 percent in Maryland to 264 percent in Texas. On the other hand, in four states, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska and Wyoming, the jail inmate population grew less than 50 percent.

States that had the largest number of inmates per 100,000 residents were Louisiana (377), Georgia (328), Texas (307), Tennessee (282), California (222) and Nevada (215). Iowa, Maine and North Dakota (each with 57 inmates per 100,000 residents); Minnesota and Montana (81) and South Dakota (87) had the smallest.

About 6 percent of the jail facilities housed more than half of all jail inmates on June 30, 1993. And last year the nation's 25 largest jail jurisdictions accounted for 30 percent of all jail inmates. The jurisdic- tions were in 12 states--seven in California, five in Texas, four in Florida and one each in New York, Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia and Michigan.

Although not all jails were able to provide complete inmate death data, among those that were, 647 inmates died during 1993. Of these, 290 were from natural causes or diseases other than AIDS (45 percent), 234 committed suicide (36 percent), 63 died from AIDS (10 percent) 19 were murdered (3 percent) and 41 died of other causes (6 percent), such as alcohol or drug overdoses (17) accidental injuries (9) and attempted escapes (3).

Between 1983 and 1993, when comparable statistics were collected, correctional staffs grew more rapidly than the inmate population--by almost 10 percent a year, while the number of jail inmates grew by more than 7 percent a year. At midyear 1993, local jails employed 165,500 persons, the equivalent of about 1 employee for every 2.8 inmates.

For the 12 months ending June 30, 1993, local governments throughout the U.S. spent an estimated $9.6 billion on jails, including all operating and capital expenditures. This total (not adjusted for inflation) was more than triple the $2.7 billion spent in 1983.

Excluding capital outlays, the average cost to keep one jail inmate incarcerated for a year was $14,667--up from $9,360 a decade ago. Adjusted for inflation, however, the annual cost per inmate decreased by 11 percent--to $8,329 in 1983 dollars.

The data are from the 1993 Census of Jails and the 1994 Annual Survey of Jails. Every five years the census collects detailed information about local jails, and the annual surveys provide national estimates on fewer items.

Single copies of the bulletin, "Jails and Jail Inmates 1993-94" (NCJ-151651), written by BJS statisticians Craig A. Perkins, James J. Stephan and Allen J. Beck, may be obtained from the BJS Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701-0179. The telephone number is 1-800-732-3277. Fax orders to 410-792-4358.

Data from tables and graphs used in many BJS reports can be obtained in spreadsheet files on 5.25 and 3.5 inch diskettes by calling 202-307-0784.