Criminal Justice

Number of Federal Prisoners Declines for First Time Since 1980

In September, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released their annual report on the prison population of the United States. In 2013 an estimated 1,574,700 prisoners were held under the legal authority of state and federal correctional officials–a figure that excludes the population of local jails. This is an increase in over 4,000 offenders from 2012. However, while the number of people in prisons increased, for the first time since 1980 the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) imprisoned fewer inmates at the end of the year (215,900 prisoners in 2013) than it did the previous year (217,800 prisoners in 2012).

total number of state and federal prison populations overcrowdingIn 2013, federal prisons released 1,121 more prisoners than they admitted. Twenty-seven states drove the increase in total prison population as almost 86 percent of all offenders were held in state prisons. At the state level, an additional 25,000 inmates, sentenced to more than a year, were added in 2013 and while less than 12,100 were released.

Although the number of federal and state prisoners increased in 2013, the overall imprisonment rate decreased. This decline may reflect efforts by both federal and state governments to lessen their prison populations. States across the country have considered policies aimed to alleviate overcrowding by focusing prison space on violent offenders. States should continue to focus and promote initiatives that promote rehabilitation, refocus funding and strengthen community corrections.

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In Depth: Criminal Justice

The American Legislative Exchange Council is proud to be a leader on criminal justice reform. For over a decade, the ALEC task force on criminal justice has brought state legislators and stakeholders together for the purpose of driving sound criminal justice policies. ALEC members focus on new and innovative state…

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