While reported crime totals in the U.S. continue to drop, more felons are being sentenced to prison and jail, say new data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. A report issued yesterday for 2006 says that more than 782,000 felons were sentenced to state prisons or local jails that year. That compares to 755,300 in 2004. More than 100,000 people were sent to prison or jail for drug possession, the report says.
BJS said an estimated 69% of all state convicted felons in 2006 were sentenced to confinement–41% to prison and 28% to jail. The proportions were similar in the 2004 report. The average prison sentence was 4 years and 11 months in 2006–about the same as 2004. About 49 percent of the overall U.S. population is male, but men accounted for 83 percent of 2006 felony convictions. Some 94 percent of felony ofenders sentenced in 2006 had pleaded guilty