State Rates of Imprisonment
Original Visualization by Mike Miciag | Updated by Melanie Kiper, 5/5/2021
State incarceration rates were a fairly stable phenomenon until the 1970s, at which point incarceration rates began to skyrocket, peaking in 2008. These increases in incarceration occurred simultaneously with rising state crime rates, but continued unabated as crime rates leveled-off in the 1990s. Due to the high cost of incarceration, as well as the difficulties of individuals successfully reentering society, rates of incarceration have received significant attention from academics, state policymakers, and reformers alike. We use data from the Bureau of Justice Statistic’s National Prisoner Statistics report to compare rates of incarceration across states.
Note:Numbers are current as of December 31 of each year and refer to prisoners with a sentence of more than one year. State totals represent the state with the legal authority over a prisoner, regardless of where they are detained.
Note: Individual states’ enumeration methods changed over time in some instances. U.S. totals include prisoners under the jurisdiction of federal authorities. Counts shown for 2017 for New Mexico and North Dakota were imputed by BJS and are not comparable to prior years.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Prisoner Statistics Program, Prisoners Series, Tables 4 and 7, https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbse&sid=40.