Mapping U.S. Prisoners: They’re In 85 Percent Of Counties


Using 2010 Census data, the Washington Post maps the number of prisoners in each U.S. county, including 1,800 state and federal corrections facilities and 3,200 local and county jails. There are more jails and prisons than degree-granting colleges and universities. In many places, particularly the South, there are more people living in prisons than on college campuses. Cumberland County, Pa., population 235,000, is home to 41 correctional facilities and 7 colleges. Prisons outnumber colleges 15-to-1 in Lexington County, S.C.

Florida, Arizona and California stand out as states with sizeable corrections populations in just about every county. States in the midwest tend to have concentrated populations in just a handful of counties. The map shows one reason why the prison issue issue is gaining traction: inmates are everywhere you look in the U.S. Nearly 85 percent of counties are home to some number of incarcerated individuals. Localities spend tens of thousands of dollars per prisoner each year, often much more than that, to house, feed and provide them with medical care.

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