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1991 Prison Population Up 6.2%

The population of state and federal prisons (not counting jails) rose 6.2 percent last year, reaching a new record high of more than 823,000, according to a study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The increase amounted to a need for 900 prison beds each week last year. The latest increase meant that the nation's prison population is now 2.5 times what it was in 1980.

The highest percentage increase last year were in Rhode Island (15.9 percent), Washington state (14.5 percent), New Hampshire (14.2 percent), and Arkansas (13.9 percent). California's increase of 4,500 inmates was the largest number of new prisoners, but 1991 was the first year since 1977 that California's percentage increase fell below the national average.

Depending on how prison capacities are defined, the nation's state and federal prisons were operating at 16 to 31 percent above capacity, BJS said. More than 12,000 state prisoners were being held in local jails or other facilities because of crowding in state institutions.

See, Prisoners in 1991 (NCJ-134729), a ten-page bulletin, include state-by-state listings of inmate populations, increases, crowding levels, and other information. Write the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20850.

From: Criminal Justice Newsletter

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