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U.S. Prison Population Grew 8.2% in 1990

Washington State Has Second Highest (15.4%) Increase The number of state and federal prisoners grew 8.2 percent last year, the U.S. Justice Departments Bureau of justice Statistics (BJS) announced on May 15. According to the Bureau, the 1990 growth rate was more moderate than the 13.5 percent increase recorded during 1989.

Since 1980 the nation's prison population has increased by almost 134 percent. "The 58,686 additional inmates added during 1990 is equal to a need for about 1,100 new prison beds every week," said Bureau Director Steven Dillingham.

"We estimate from what the prison authorities reported to us that prisons throughout the country were operating at 18 to 29 percent above their capacities, Dillingham said. "In addition, we found that local jails were holding more than 18,000 prisoners because state institutions lacked space."

For the first time since 1981, the increase in male prisoners during 1990 exceeded that for women. The number of male prisoners rose 8.3 percent during the year, whereas the number of female prisoners increased 7.9 percent.

Thirteen states and the federal system recorded increases of at least 10 percent in the number of prisoners last year, led by Vermont (up 15.9 percent), Washington (up 15.4 percent), and New Hampshire (up 15.1 percent). The number of inmates per capita also reached a new record high of 293 prisoners with sentences of greater than a year for every 100,000 U.S. residents.

From: Corrections Digest

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