The nation’s local jail population dropped 2.4 percent in the year ending June 30, the second consecutive year of decline, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today. The inmate count fell from 767,434 to 748,728. That followed a 2.3 percent decline in 2009. The jail incarceration rate in 2010 declined to 242 jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents?the lowest rate since 2003.
The inmate decline was concentrated in places holding 1,000 or more inmates. Los Angeles County, with a drop of 3,007 inmates, led the nation in overall decline; five other places reported a decline of more than 1,000 inmates: Maricopa County, Az. (down 1,196 inmates); Orange County, Ca. (down 1,143); Philadelphia (down 1,111); Fresno County, Ca. (down 1,105); and Harris County, Tx. (down 1,096). Jails were operating at 86 percent of their rated capacity at midyear 2010, the lowest percentage since 1984.