More than 2.2 million people are currently incarcerated in the United States today, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. About 1.5 million are in federal or state facilities for adults. The remainder are in local jails, juvenile facilities, military prisons, jails on Indian reservations, or immigration facilities. This is not the full picture, however. More than 5 million additional persons are under Justice supervision, either on probation or on parole. The number of people currently active within the system is over 7 million.
The United States imprisons more of its own people than any other country in the world. For every 100,000 U.S. residents, more than 700 are in prison. In contrast, the incarceration rate per 100,000 residents in the U.K. is 125; in Canada, 110; and in the Netherlands, France and Italy it is 90. In Japan, the incarceration rate is 40 per 100,000. Of all the prisoners in the world, one out of every four is incarcerated in the United States.
The number of U.S. prisoners continues to grow. The prison population has more than quadrupled since 1980, and has risen sharply for women and youth. Greatest increases are in the South and West regions, but the general trend is consistent across all states. Approximately 1 in every 100 men and 1 in every 1,700 women in America resides in a federal or state facility. If this trend persists, we can expect that one in every 20 of America's children will serve time in a state or federal prison.
Criminal Justice Updates
December 15, 2013: Commentary: A Word on Freedom
Oscar Lopez Rivera's 32 years in prison are inhumane. Our appeal to President Obama is to release him with a small stroke of his pen so we can join the whole world who has taken notice of him as well.
April 24, 2013: Check out the piece on the Huffington Post, a piece co-written by the UCC's Sala Nolan. Here you can watch the trailer for a new video from the Beyond Bars campaign to protest mass incarceration in the U.S. As Christians should know but often don't, mass incarceration is one of our country's greatest sins. With less than 5% of the world's population, we house nearly 25% of the world's prisoners -- more than any other nation. Over half of these people are in for nonviolent offenses. And the system has a deep racial bias, with people of color (especially black men) receiving more prosecutions and longer sentences than white folks who commit the same crimes.
Gun violence resouce page from the UCC
March 14, 2013: Police violence in Cleveland, Ohio cries out for further investigation. Read this Witness for Justice column, 137 Shots.
UCC leaders rally around efforts to end gun violence
June 25, 2012: U.S. Supreme Court rules that juveniles cannot be given mandatory life sentences.
April 2012: UCC Southwest Conference passes resolution opposing privatization of prisons: Advocating for Justice in the Prison Industrial Complex.
March, 2012: United Church of Christ Collegium of Officers sends letter protesting sale of prisons to private companies, according to United Church News.
Learn More About Criminal Justice