U.S. Prison Population at All-Time High

Report says one out of every 133 U.S. residents is locked up.

ByABC News
June 27, 2007, 11:58 AM

June 27, 2007 — -- The slammer is getting slammed -- with an increase in inmates.

The nation's inmate population is at an all-time high, and has seen its largest year-to-year increase in six years, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report.

The findings, examining the time frame from July 2005 to June 2006, totaled up more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in the nation's federal and state prisons and local jails. That includes an increase of 62,037, or 2.8 percent, compared with numbers available in 2005. In other words, one out of every 133 U.S. residents is behind bars.

Federal prisons and state facilities in California and Texas house two-thirds of all offenders.

Prison admissions have jumped a whopping 17.2 percent since 2000; the report also reveals that prison admission rates have increased faster than release rates.

Part of the increase appears to be related to former inmates or convicts violating parole and being sent back to the slammer. In 2005, 232,000 parole violators were locked up again -- 14 percent more compared with 2000.

And for some prisons, the big house isn't big enough. As of December 2005, many states were more than 10 percent above capacity. Federal prisons were a staggering 34 percent above capacity.

Forty-two states reported increases in their inmate populations during June 2005 to June 2006. Only eight states reported declines or no change.

The inmate explosion has caused some states to consider desperate measures to cope with overpopulation. Some states send inmates to privately held facilities, a practice that saw a nearly 13 percent increase in inmates, to almost 85,000.

Earlier this year, Arizona moved more than 600 inmates to Indiana.

In that case, however, the transfer didn't go smoothly. An April 24 riot at the New Castle, Ind., Correctional Facility highlighted some potential problems of transferring prisoners.

A report issued after the incident ultimately blamed the prisoners for not following staff orders, but there were underlying issues resulting from the Arizona inmates' move.