U.S. prison population trends

After nearly four decades of rapid growth, the U.S. prison population has begun to decline. As you’ll see from the table below, the imprisonment rate fell in 29 states from 2006 to 2011.

Many states with drops have reined in the size and cost of their corrections systems through policy changes that shorten prison terms for lower-level offenders or divert them from prison altogether.

Nationwide, the crime rate decreased 13 percent since 2006. Thanks to the Pew Charitable Trusts for much of this information. The 2011 population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau. (To see all the state data at once, select “Show 100 entries” in the drop-down menu. You’ll see only 50 states, plus the U.S. total, of course.)

State

Total state population (2011)

Prison population (2011)

Prison population as percentage of total population

5-year percentage change in imprisonment rate (2006-2011)

West Virginia1,855,3646,603.35+17
Arizona6,482,50538,370.59+16
Pennsylvania12,742,88651,390.40+14
Arkansas2,937,97916,037.54+12
Alabama4,802,74031,271.65+9
Indiana6,516,92228,890.44+8
Illinois12,869,25748,427.38+7
Florida19,057,542103,055.54+6
Tennessee6,403,35328,479.44+5
Mississippi2,978,51220,585.69+5
Minnesota5,344,8619,800.18+4
Ohio11,544,95150,964.44+3
Kentucky4,369,35620,952.47+3
Nebraska1,842,6414,511.24+3
Kansas2,871,2389,327.32+2
Louisiana4,574,83639,709.86+2
New Mexico2,082,2246,855.32+2
North Carolina9,656,40135,102.36+1
Oregon3,871,85914,459.37+1
Idaho1,584,9857,739.48+1
Iowa3,062,3099,057.290
Missouri6,010,68830,829.510
South Dakota824,0823,530.430
Virginia8,096,60438,130.47-2
Georgia9,815,21053,955.55-2
Utah2,817,2226,877.24-2
Montana998,1993,678.36-2
U.S. Federal Prisons311,591,9171,340,365.43-3
Rhode Island1,051,3022,065.20-3
Maine1,328,1881,952.14-3
Vermont626,4311,598.25-3
Maryland5,828,28922,252.38-4
New Hampshire1,318,1942,614.19-4
Washington6,830,03817,808.26-4
North Dakota683,9321,423.21-4
Oklahoma3,791,50824,024.63-5
Wyoming568,1582,183.38-6
Texas25,674,681163,552.63-7
Nevada2,723,32212,639.46-8
Wisconsin5,711,76720,559.35-9
Colorado5,116,79621,978.42-9
Delaware907,1354,003.44-10
South Carolina4,679,23022,233.47-10
Connecticut3,580,70912,549.35-11
New York19,465,19755,262.28-13
Alaska722,7182,901.40-13
New Jersey8,821,15523,834.27-14
Massachusetts6,587,53610,316.16-15
Michigan9,876,18742,904.43-15
Hawaii1,374,8103,910.28-16
California37,691,912149,025.40-17

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