Pubdate: Thu, 10 Aug 2000
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2000 Houston Chronicle
Contact:  Viewpoints Editor, P.O. Box 4260 Houston, Texas 77210-4260
Fax: (713) 220-3575
Bookmark: MAP's shortcut to incarceration items:


Nation's Incarcerations Pass 2 Million

WASHINGTON -- Texas became the state with the largest prison
population in America in 1999 as the number of people held in U.S.
prisons, jails and juvenile facilities passed 2 million, according to
a Justice Department report.

Texas had 163,190 people incarcerated at the end of last year,
slightly more than California, which held 163,067.

For the decade, Texas averaged a growth rate of its prison population
of 11.8 percent a year, the greatest rate of increase in the country.
In the 1990s the Texas prison population increased 173 percent.

Only Louisiana had more people per 100,000 residents behind bars --
776 per 100,000 compared to 762 for Texas. The lowest rate of
incarceration was Minnesota, with 125 per 100,000 residents.

The department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said Wednesday that the
U.S. prison and jail population added nearly 74,000 inmates in 1999
for a total of 1.89 million, although the rate of increase slowed from
previous years.

Texas added 2,727 people to its prison and jail population in 1999 --
more than any state except Georgia.

In addition to inmates held in prisons and jails, there were about
106,000 juveniles held in facilities, 18,000 in territorial prisons,
nearly 7,700 in U.S. immigration facilities, nearly 2,300 in military
facilities and 1,600 in American Indian jails.

The nation's prison population has swelled by 77 percent since 1990,
an increase of nearly 600,000 inmates, the 16-page report found.

One in every 110 men in the United States has been sentenced to at
least a year's confinement, the report said.

About 1 in every 11 black males in their late 20s was serving a
sentence of a year or more in state or federal prison. At the end of
last year, blacks constituted 46 percent of all inmates with a
sentence of at least a year, while white inmates accounted for 33
percent and Hispanics 18 percent.

Allen Beck, a statistician who wrote the report, attributed the
overall increase in the prison population in the 1990s to several
factors, including more than a 50 percent rise in the number of parole
violators returned to prison and a higher average amount of time
served behind bars.

He also cited an increase in violent and drug offenders, which
together accounted for about 70 percent of the growth in the prison
population of the states.

Criminal justice experts have cited the record number of Americans
incarcerated as one factor behind the declining U.S. crime rate in the
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake