At the end of 2004 nearly 7 million people were in jail, state or federal prison, or on parole/probation - - 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 31 adults. State and federal prison authorities had in custody 1,421,911 inmates: 1,244,311 in state custody and 170,535 in federal custody. Local jails held 713,990 persons awaiting trial or serving a sentence at midyear 2004. An additional 70,548 persons under jail supervision were serving their sentence in the community.
Between 1995 and 2004, the incarcerated population grew an average 3.4% annually. Population growth during the 12-month period ending December 31, 2004 was lower in State prisons (up 1.8%) than in local jails (up 3.3%) and Federal prison (up 5.5%). After sharp increases in the 1980s and 1990s, the incarceration rate has recently grown at a slower pace.
A report published by Bureau of Justice in 2013, based on data collected by the end of 2012, describes the third consecutive year of decline of prison population in state prisons, but an increase in the number of federal prisoners. The U.S. prison population declined for the third consecutive year in 2012, from a high of 1,615,487 inmates in 2009 to 1,571,013 at yearend 2012. The U.S. imprisoned 27,770 fewer prisoners (down 1.7%) at yearend 2012 than at yearend 2011. The federal prison population increased by 1,453 prisoners in 2012 (up 0.7%), while the state prison population declined by 29,223 prisoners (down 2.1%). For more statistics visit Bureau of Justice Statistics
2013 is an interesting year for California's DOC, with events worth following up because they will affect the rest of the country's prison system. In the 90's California housed more inmates than any other state in the US, and the DOC was forced to house part of its inmate out of state. California's inmate population of its 33 adult prison facilities declined gradually from 163,000 at its peak in 2006 to 144,000 on October 1, 2011. On that day, California's historic Public Safety Realignment Legislation (AB 109) began transferring authority for a large number of non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual felony offenders from the state prison system to the counties.
Since the beginning of realignment, which also eliminated the return to prison for parole violations, the population has dropped another 17% to 120,000. But, recent population reductions are not sufficient to meet federal requirements. The U. S. Supreme Court ordered the reduction of the prisoner population to 137.5% of design capacity (or about 110,000 inmates) by year's end. However, even with the recent population decrease, state's prisons are operating at 150% of their design capacity and will need to clear out nearly 10,000 more prisoners to comply with the court mandate.
State Department of Corrections