Bureau of Justice Statistics Report Shows Drop in Correctional Population

WASHINGTON — More than 6.74 million adults were incarcerated in the U.S. at the end of 2015, according to a new report released Dec. 29 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). This number marks a roughly 1.7 percent decrease in incarceration from the beginning of that year, and the first time the country’s overall correctional population has fallen to less than 6.8 million inmates since 2002.

At yearend 2015, approximately one in 37 adults (or 2.7 percent of all adults) in the U.S. was under some form of correctional supervision, the lowest rate since 1994, according to the BJS report. Offenders supervised in the community on either probation (3,789,800) or parole (870,500) continued to account for most of the U.S. correctional population.

At the close of 2015, an estimated 2,173,800 individuals were also under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons, or being held in local jails. This number is down by roughly 51,300 persons from the same period in 2014, marking the largest decline in the incarcerated population since it first decreased in 2009, according to the BJS report.

The report further links a 40 percent (down 35,000) decline in the U.S. prison population from 2014 to 2015 to an overall decrease in the number of federal prisoners; the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) population decreased by 7 percent (down 14,100 inmates) during that period.

Likewise, the overall state prison population decreased by almost 2 percent, or 21,400 inmates, from 2014 to 2015. A total of 29 states recorded inmate population decreases, and fewer admissions and more releases from state and federal prisons contributed to the overall decrease. State and federal prisons admitted approximately 608,300 inmates in 2015, 17,800 fewer than in 2014. These institutions also released 641,000 persons in 2015, which was 4,700 more than in 2014.

An average of 721,300 inmates were confined within county and city jails on any given day in 2015, down from a peak of 776,600 inmates on an average day in 2008, according to the BJS report. The report states that 2015 saw approximately 10.9 million jail admissions, and from 2008 to 2015, the volume of those admissions has steadily declined.

Along with the report, the BJS also announced its updated online Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool to include 2015 inmate data. The data tool allows the media, stakeholders and other BJS website users to analyze inmate data by yearend populations, admissions, releases and many other prisoner characteristics.

The reports, data tool, related documents and additional information about BJS’s statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at http://www.bjs.gov/.