California “Realignment” Pushes National Jail Population Up


The national jail population rose last year after three straight years of decline, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today.

As of mid-year 2012, the count in city and county jails was 744,524, up from 735,601 the year before. The increase was due mostly to California’s “public safety realignment” program, which shifted many inmates from state prisons to local jails starting in late 2011.

California’s jail population rose last year by about 7,600 after record-low counts at the ends of both 2010 and 2011.

Across the U.S., the rate of jail population per 100,000 residents remained stable between 2011 (236 per 100,000) and 2012 (237 per 100,000), down from a high of 259 in 2007.

Jails with an average daily population of 1,000 or more inmates accounted for some 91 percent (8,090) of the increase in the inmate population.

Jails operated at 84 percent of capacity, the lowest percentage since 1984.

Local jails admitted about 11.6 million inmates in the year ending midyear 2012, down from 13.6 million in 2008.

Stays in jails typically are so short that the number of those admitted last year was about 16 times the size of the average daily population.

Read the full report HERE.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington DC Bureau Chief of The Crime Report. He welcomes comments from readers.

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