Some 41 percent of inmates held in local jails in 2002 had a current or previous violent offense on their records, reports the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The bureau issued the findings of its first jail inmate survey in six years. The data were compiled from in-depth personal interviews with a representative sample of nearly 7,000 inmates in about 417 local jails. In 2002, jails held 665,475 prisoners.
Among the survey’s findings:
* About 60 percent of inmates are black or Hispanic, about same as the 1996 figure.
* Jail inmates were older on average in 2002 than 1996; 38 percent were age 35 or older, up from 32 percent in 1996.
* Half of jail inmates in 2002 were held for a violent or drug offense, virtually unchanged from 1996.
* In 2002, 13 percent of inmates had a current or prior drug offense only.