The growth of jail incarceration has not impacted everyone equally, according to an updated interactive data tool published today by the Vera Institute of Justice.
“The racial composition of counties varies widely, but particular racial groups are over-represented in jail populations,” researchers write in the section of the online tool measuring incarceration impacts by race. “For example, although African Americans comprised just 13 percent of the general population in 2014, they made up nearly 40 percent of the overall U.S. jail population. “
The Incarceration Trends Project online data tool was updated with federally-collected prison population data from 1978-2014, in addition to providing new data on county residents in prison, for each county in Ohio and Pennsylvania (in addition to existing data for California and New York). It measures incarceration trends by race, gender, decades of jail growth, the size of jails today and jail and prison populations—enabling justice stakeholders to analyze jail and prison populations by jurisdiction.
“Until now, there hasn’t been a nationwide dataset to examine whether, and how, state prison and jail trends relate to one another,” said Christian Henrichson, research director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, in a press release. “While these data alone cannot explain why trends diverge, it’s now clear that they often do. Policymakers and the public must look at both prison and jail populations to measure the success of reform efforts.”
Jails and prisons saw similar incarceration trends in most states between 2006-2014, but diverged in 16 states, VERA said. According to the data tool, the average daily jail populations continued to rise while prison populations declined in seven states, while in nine states this trend was reversed.