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U.S. Jail Population Rose in 2016 to Nearly 750,000

U.S. jails saw a population increase in 2016, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics data released on Feb. 22.

Jails housed 740,700 in 2016, a 1.8 percent (13,300-person) increase from 2015, while the average daily population saw a 1.6 percent increase (11,800) to 731,300.

The jail incarceration rate (the number of inmates per 100,000 population) rose from 227 to 229 – a 1.1 percent increase from 2015, but still below a peak of 259 per 100,000 in 2007.

The incarceration rate of males (377 per 100,000) was six times that of females (62 per 100,000 females).

Males represented 85.5 percent (602,200) and females 14.5 percent (102,300) of people incarcerated at the end of 2016.

The incarceration rate of blacks (599 per 100,000 black residents in the U.S.) was 3.5 times as high as non-Hispanic whites (171 per 100,000 non-Hispanic white residents in the U.S.) to be incarcerated.

By comparison, there were 359 American Indian or Alaskan Native per 100,000 American Indian or Alaskan Native residents and 185 Hispanic/Latino per 100,000 Hispanic/Latino residents.

Even though the incarceration rate for blacks is significantly higher, white non-Hispanic inmates still make up the largest percentage of the total jail population.

At the end of 2016, non-Hispanic whites accounted for 48.1 percent (338,700) of persons incarcerated in jails, followed by blacks (34.4 percent, or 242,200 persons), Hispanics/Latinos (15.2 percent, or 107,200) and American Indians or Alaskan Natives (1.2 percent, or 8,600).

“A jail jurisdiction is a county (parish in Louisiana) or municipal government that administers one or more local jails and represents the entity responsible for managing jail facilities under its authority,” the BJS explains. “Most jail jurisdictions consist of a single facility, but some have multiple facilities or multiple facility operators, called reporting units.”

The full report is available here.