More than two million inmates were behind bars in the United States for the first time in mid-2002, says a new federal report. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics says that state and federal facilities held 1,355,748 prisoners and municipal and county jails an additional 665,475. The jail population rose 5.4 percent in the year before the count, the largest increase in five years.
At midyear 2002, 1 in every 142 U.S. residents was in prison or jail. The federal system now is the nation’s largest prison jurisdiction. The states with the greatest recent increases in inmate population were Rhode Island, 17.4 percent, and New Mexico, 11.1 percent). Nine states, including several large states, experienced prison population declines.