U.S. Jail Populations Decline; First Drop In Nearly 3 Decades


The local jail population in the U.S. fell 2.3 percent between 2008 and 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today. It was the first annual decline in the jail population since the survey began in 1982. As of midyear 2009, 767,620 inmates county and city jails, down 17,936 from the previous year. About 62 percent of jail inmates were awaiting the disposition of their cases. The remaining 38 percent were convicted and awaiting sentencing, had been sentenced to serve time in jail, or were awaiting transfer to state or federal prisons.

The total rated capacity for jails nationwide reached 849,544 beds at midyear 2009, up 2.6 percent from 2008. The percent of capacity occupied at midyear 2009 (90.4 percent) was the lowest since 2001 (90.0 percent). Local jails admitted an estimated 12.8 million persons during the 12 months ending June 30, 2009, or about 17 times the size of the midyear inmate population.

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