People in Prison in 2018

People In Prison 2018 Square V2

Overview

Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) researchers collected year-end 2017 and 2018 prison population data directly from state departments of corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on the number of people in state and federal prisons on December 31, 2018, in order to provide timely information on how prison incarceration is changing in the United States. This report fills a gap until the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) releases its 2018 annual report—likely in early 2020—which will include additional data, such as population breakdowns by race and sex. Specifically, Vera studied both prison populations and incarceration rates at the state and federal levels and demonstrated both the overall U.S. incarceration trend as well as trends within individual regions and states.

Prison Population Change 2017-2018

Adjust arrows to view the four different combinations of population trends and incarceration rate. Select any state to see detailed data.

Rate Decreased
Rate Increased
Bottom 25 Incarceration Rate
Top 25 Incarceration Rate
Rate Decreased
Rate Increased
Bottom 25 Incarceration Rate
Top 25 Incarceration Rate

Key Takeaway

The overall 1.8% decline in the national prison incarceration rate was driven by the large decrease in the number of people in federal prisons, as well as greater than 5% declines in incarceration rates in seven states. However, the declines were not universal. Mass incarceration is still on the rise in some states, such as Indiana, Texas, and Wyoming.

Publication Highlights

  • The nearly 20,000-person drop in the number of people in state and federal prisons continues a nine-year decline in the total U.S. prison population.

  • The total prison incarceration rate in the United States is down 15% since 2008.

  • As of December 2018, there were 144,200 fewer people in prison since the peak population in 2009, representing an 8.9% reduction.

Key Facts

Related

An Unjust Burden

The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System

The evidence for racial disparities in the criminal justice system is well documented. The disproportionate racial impact of certain laws and policies, as well as biased decision making by justice system actors, leads to higher rates of arrest and incarceration in low-income communities of color. However, there is no evidence that these widely disp...

Publication
  • Elizabeth Kai Hinton, LeShae Henderson, Cindy Reed
May 03, 2018
Publication