Crime, Prisons, Prisoners & Criminal Justice System facts and statistics
- Contrary to popular belief a “violent” crime doesn’t have to be violent. Most violent crimes don’t involve any physical harm whatsoever.
- Over 40% of people in prison and jail are there for offenses classified as “violent,”
- Burglary is generally considered a property crime, but an array of state and federal laws classify burglary as a violent crime in certain situations.
- Such as when it occurs at night, in a residence, or with a weapon present.
- In some states purse-snatching, manufacturing methamphetamines, and stealing drugs are considered violent crimes.
- People released from prison after serving time for violent crimes are the least likely to reoffend.
- One reason for the lower rates of recidivism among people convicted of violent offenses: age is one of the main predictors of violence.
- Contrary to the popular narrative, most victims of violence want violence prevention, not incarceration.
- 374,000 people are incarcerated for drug offenses at any given time.
- 1 in 5 people are locked up for a drug offense.
- Police make over 1 million drug possession arrests each year,
- In 2019, at least 153,000 people were incarcerated for non-criminal violations of probation or parole, often called “technical violations
- The most recent data show that nationally, almost 1 in 5 (18%) people in jail are there for a violation of probation or parole, though in some places these violations or detainers account for over one-third of the jail population.
- Nearly 1 in 4 people in state prisons are incarcerated as a result of supervision violations.
- For behaviors as benign as jaywalking or sitting on a sidewalk, an estimated 13 million misdemeanor charges force Americans into the criminal justice system each year.
- These low-level offenses typically account for about 25% of the daily jail population nationally, and much more in some states and counties.
Youth Offender Facts
- There are 49,000 youth in confinement in the United States: too many are there for a “most serious offense” that is not even a crime.
- For example, there are over 5,000 youth behind bars for non-criminal violations of their probation rather than for a new offense.
- About 1 in 14 youth held for a criminal or delinquent offense is locked in an adult jail or prison, and most of the others are held in juvenile facilities that look and operate a lot like prisons and jails.
Immigration Offender Facts
- Almost 6,000 people are in federal prisons for criminal convictions of immigration offense
- 16,000 more are held pretrial by the U.S. Marshals
- The vast majority of people incarcerated for criminal immigration offenses are accused of illegal entry or illegal reentry — in other words, for no more serious offense than crossing the border without permission
- Another 22,000 people are civilly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not for any crime, but simply because they are facing deportation
- An additional 9,800 unaccompanied children are held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), awaiting placement with parents, family members, or friends.
- 22,000 people are involuntarily detained or committed to state psychiatric hospitals and civil commitment centers.
- Many of these people are not even convicted, and some are held indefinitely. 9,000 are being evaluated pretrial or treated for incompetency to stand trial.
- 6,000 have been found not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill.
- 6,000 are people convicted of sexual crimes who are involuntarily committed or detained after their prison sentences are complete.
- 38 states allow civil commitment for involuntary treatment for substance use, and in many cases, people are sent to actual prisons and jails, which are inappropriate places for treatment
Parole & Probation
- There are 822,000 people on parole.
- 2.9 million people are on probation
- Many millions more have completed their sentences but are still living with a criminal record, a stigmatizing label that comes with collateral consequences such as barriers to employment and housing.
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