Conviction Stats in the United States
2.3 million people in the U.S are considered prisoners of the American criminal justice system. These people are locked away in both state and federal prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, local jails, Indian Country jails, military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers and state psychiatric hospitals.
In addition, it's important to establish the differences in jail statistics and prison statistics. Every year, 626,000 people walk out of prison but people are sentenced to jail 10.6 million times per year. The amount of time people enter jail is so large because most people in jails are yet to be convicted.
In the United States, correctional facilities have housed women separately from men since the 1870s. Therefore, it is important to look at gender convict statistics when attempting to get a look at the bigger picture. 2013 saw 102,400 adult females in local jails in the United States, and 111,300 adult females in state and federal prisons. This is the largest rate of female incarceration that the state has seen. This dramatic increase occurred as a result of increased prosecutions and convictions of offenses related to recreational drugs. What's more, 2013 saw 628,000 adult males imprisoned in local jails and 1,463,500 adult males in state and federal prisons.
When touching on statistics related to more severe crimes such as murder it's important to understand exactly what statistics you are dealing with. First of all, the term 'murder' groups together serial killers with people (for want of a better term) who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. This means that when analyzing convict statistics, you may not realize that you are dealing with a whole other cross section of society. The term 'murder' considers offenses that the average American may not even consider to be murder. The felony murder rule means that if someone dies during any type of felony, everyone involved could be guilty of murder.
Juvenile convict statistics are also surprising. For many locked away in the juvenile justice system, their serious offenses are not even considered to be crimes. In fact, there are over 8,500 youth that are locked away for violating their probation as opposed to a new offense. In addition, 2,300 youngsters are locked up for status offenses. Status offenses are defined as "behaviors that are not law violations for adults, such as running away, truancy, and incorrigibility".
Immigration crimes are another group of crimes that contribute heavily to convict statistics. 13,000 people are imprisoned in federal prisons for violating federal immigration laws. Furthermore, 13,000 are held pretrial by U.S Marshals and 34,000 are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These individuals accused of immigration crimes are treated differently from any other criminal proceedings and are confined in federally-run or privately-run immigration facilities or local jails.
In addition, it is not surprising that prison sentences have a direct correlation to employment. Statistics show that in The States, around 33% of unemployed men are either in jail or are ex-prisoners. What's more, just under 50% of ex-prisoners have no reported earnings in the first few years after completing their prison sentence. Finally, a whopping 50% of those that do succeed in finding employment, earn less that a full-time job at minimum wage. These findings confirm what research has been teaching us for decades: poverty, race and serving time are all interlinked and the struggles to find work are well before their incarceration. What's more, a larger share of these individuals grew up in racially segregated neighborhoods where the majority were living below the poverty line and employed males were in the minority. Therefore, considering the link between childhood conditions and being arrested for crimes, it seems that one of the best ways to help ex-prisoners find well paying jobs is by investing in children situated in areas of concentrated poverty.
Around half a million people in the States are locked up for drug offenses however the percentage is much lower at a local level. Most people in local or state facilities are not locked away as a consequence of drug offenses, states tend to have a continued practice of arresting people for drug possession. These arrests are some of the toughest in terms of employment. Not only do these arrests destabilize lives but above all, leave these individuals with criminal records, in turn lowering employment prospects and increasing prospects of longer prison sentences.
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