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Number of U.S. Prisoners Increases Slightly in 2013

The total number of individuals incarcerated in the United States increased slightly in 2013, climbing by 4,300 to reach 1,574,700 prisoners, according  to the federal Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).  This was the first increase recorded since the 2009 total of 1,615,500.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics is charged with collecting annual correctional data from state and local correctional facilities, as well as data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The number of prisoners in state custody went up 6,300 in 2013, while the number of prisoners in federal custody declined 1,900, the first recorded decrease in federal detainees since 1980.  In the past ten years the number of individuals in federal custody increased from 173,059 to 215,866, a 2.2% increase.  In the same time period, the number of prisoners in the U.S. increased from 1,295,542 to 1,358,875, a smaller increase of .5%.

The increasing state incarceration percentages stemmed from increasing prisoner counts in 28 states, while the remaining states experienced slight increases.  The three states with the largest prisoner counts, Texas, California, and Florida, all locked up more individuals in 2013 than they did in 2012. Texas continues to hold the dubious distinction of confining the most individuals, with 168,280 behind bars, with California following close behind at 135,981.

Other BJS statistics revealed that the U.S. continues to incarcerate a higher percentage of black males than white males, with 3% of the former in jail compared to .5% of the latter.  Additionally, the trend of rising female incarceration continued, increasing from 100,846 to 111,287 in the past ten years.  The number of male prisoners increased from 1,367,755 to 1,463,454 in the same time period.

The largest percentage increase was experienced by states not known for locking up a large number of people, namely Vermont, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Minnesota.  One of the smaller states, New Hampshire, recorded the largest increase in prisoner counts in 2013, climbing from 2790 to 3018, an increase of 8.2%.


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