Correctional Population in the United States, 2010

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The Bureau of Justice Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, has released data for the correctional population in 2010, and the population declined by 1.3%, the second consecutive year of lower counts. Still, more than 7.1 million offenders were in prisons, jails, and or community corrections agencies at yearend 2010.

Of note, there were 91,700 fewer individuals in the correctional system. In addition, about 7 in 10 persons under the supervision of adult correctional systems were supervised in the community (4,887,900) on probation or parole, while about 3 in 10 were incarcerated (2,266,800) in local jails or in the custody of state or federal prisons. About three-quarters of the correctional population reduction during the year involved probationers.

In addition, the total U.S. prison population fell to 1.6 million at yearend 2010, a decline of 0.6 percent during the year – the first decline in the total prison population in nearly 40 years. Half of state departments of corrections reported decreases in their prison population during 2010, with California seeing the largest decrease. Experts expect this trend to continue as states focus on reducing costs and expanding their supervision options, including day reporting or location monitoring programs in the community.

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