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Publication Prisoners in 2008

Matthew Cooper (BJS Intern), William J. Sabol, Ph.D., Heather C. West, Ph.D.

December 8, 2009    NCJ 228417

Presents data on prisoners under jurisdiction of federal or state correctional authorities on December 31, 2008, collected from the National Prisoner Statistics series. This annual report compares changes in the prison population during 2008 to changes from yearend 2000 through yearend 2007. These are the only comprehensive national-level data on prison admissions and releases. Findings cover data on decreasing growth in state and federal prisons through declining admissions and increasing releases; imprisonment rates for prisoners sentenced to more than 1 year by jurisdiction; the number of males and females in prison; age, race, and gender distributions; the number of inmates in custody in state and federal prison and local jails; and custody incarceration rates. The report also includes the count for inmates held within facilities operated by and for the military, U.S. territories, Indian country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and juvenile authorities.


  • The U.S. prison population grew at the slowest rate (0.8%) since 2000, reaching 1,610,446 sentenced prisoners at yearend 2008.
  • Growth of the prison population since 2000 (1.8% per year on average) was less than a third of the average annual rate during the 1990s (6.5% per year on average).
  • Between 2000 and 2008 the number of blacks in prison declined by 18,400, lowering the imprisonment rate to 3,161 men and 149 women per 100,000 persons in the U.S. resident black population.

Part of the Prisoners Series

Press Release
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Zip format (Spreadsheet 51K)

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National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) Program

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