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Prisoners in 1986

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1987
Publication Series
Population counts for Federal and State prisons on December 31, 1986, show a record 546,659 inmates, an increase of over 43,000 in 1 year and the second largest absolute increase recorded in the 60-year history of the National Prisoner Statistics program.

Since 1980, per capita incarceration rates have grown most rapidly in the West, increasing by nearly 89 percent. In contrast, incarceration rates have increased 82 percent in the Northeast, 59 percent in the Midwest, and 32 percent in the South. Women inmates increased at a faster rate during 1986 than males, although the rate of incarceration for sentenced males (prisoners with sentences of more than 1 year) was about 21 times higher than for sentenced females. At the end of 1986, 17 States reported almost 14,000 prisoners held in local jails because of overcrowding in State facilities. Three States -Louisiana, New Jersey and California -- accounted for more than half of these prisoners. The survey estimated that most jurisdictions were operating above reported capacity. Problems in estimating prison capacity and the relationship between criminal justice policies and prison population growth are discussed. Tables provide prison population statistics for individual States.

Date Published: May 12, 1987