Every year, millions of men and women leave America’s state and federal prisons and local jails with the hope of a successful return to society. In 2005, 698,459 individuals passed through prison gates and an estimated 9 million individuals exited jail.
Many former prisoners return to dependent children. In 2001, prisoners released from state or federal prison were parents to 1.5 million children. There are 3.2 million children if inmates released from jail and on parole are included.
The challenges of prisoner reentry are therefore not experienced by released prisoners alone; they are challenges experienced by families that are predominantly low income.
Sources Data in this fact sheet are drawn from these Urban Institute publications (except where noted): Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families, and Communities, edited by Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul (2004); “Life After Lockup: Improving Reentry from Jail to the Community,” by Amy L. Solomon, Jenny W. L. Osborne, Stefan LoBuglio, Jeff Mellow, and Debbie Mukamal (2008); “Cleveland Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Prisoner Reentry,” by Christy Visher, Tobi Palmer, and Caterina Gouvis Roman (2007); “One Year Out: Experiences of Prisoners Returning to Cleveland,” by Christy Visher and Shannon Courtney (2007); “Returning Home: Exploring the Challenges and Successes of Recently Released Texas Prisoners,” by Nancy La Vigne, Lisa Brooks, and Tracey Shollenberger (2007); “Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006,” by William J. Sabol, Todd D. Minton, and Paige M. Harrison (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2007); “Cleveland Prisoners’ Experiences Returning Home,” by Christy Visher and Shannon M.E. Courtney (2006); “The Housing Landscape for Returning Prisoners in the District of Columbia,” by Caterina Gouvis Roman, Michael Kane, and Rukmini Giridharadas (2006); and “Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry, Maryland Pilot Study: Findings from Baltimore,” by Christy Visher, Nancy La Vigne, and Jeremy Travis (2004)
The number of inmates in state and federal prisons has increased more than six-fold from less than 200,000 in 1970 to 1,440,655 by the end 2002. An additional 665,475 are held in local jails.
As of June 30, 2002, the nation’s prison and jail population exceeded 2 million for the first time inhistory.
At the end of 2002, 1 of every 143 Americans was incarcerated in prison or jail.
The number of persons on probation and parole has been growing dramatically along with institutional populations. There are now 6.7 million Americans incarcerated or on probation or parole, an increase of more than 265 percent since 1980.
One in eight (12.9%) black males aged 25-29 were in prison or jail at midyear 2002, as were 1 in 23 (4.3%) Hispanic males and 1 in 63 (1.6%) white males in the same age group.
Overall, 1 in 1,656 women and 1 in 110 men were in prison in 2002.
The 2002 United States’ rate of incarceration of 701 inmates per 100,000 population is the highest reported rate in the world, now ahead of Russia’s rate of 611 per 100,000.
Who is in our Prisons and Jails?
93% of prison inmates are male, 7% female.
45% of prison inmates in 2002 were black and 18% were Hispanic.
68% of state prison inmates in 1997 had not completed high school.
36% of jail inmates in 1996 were unemployed prior to entering jail.
64% of jail inmates in 1996 had monthly incomes of under $1,000 in the month before their arrest.
70% of those sentenced to state prisons in 1998 were convicted of non-violent crimes, including 31% for drug offenses, and 26% for property offenses.
1 in 4 jail inmates in 1996 was in jail for a drug offense, compared to 1 in 10 in 1983; drug offenders constituted 21% of 1999 state prison inmates and 57% of 1999 federal prison inmates.
Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives; Hispanic males have a 17% chance; white males have a 6% chance.
This article addresses the reentry challenges faced by low-skilled men released from U.S. prisons. The author empirically characterizes the increases in incarceration occurring since 1970 and assesses the degree to which these changes result from changes in policy as opposed to changes in criminal behavior.
In light of the recent visibility of this research and the importance of public policies that flow logically from it, we revisit the impact of juvenile (ages 16-17) and young adult (18-19) incarceration on short- and medium-term outcomes in a variety of domains. This paper is directly concerned with the problem of causal identification. We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 to estimate difference-indifferences models as well as propensity score matching. The empirical results suggest that there is evidence of causal effects for some types of outcomes. For example, while we find that incarceration reduces the probability of formal employment, we find no adverse effect on wages among those who are employed. We find that the most consistent negative outcomes attributable to the experience of incarceration are related to educational attainment.
Over the past two decades, as law enforcement has become a front-line response to substance abuse, many people with substance abuse disorders have entered the criminal justice system. The increase in the number of people in the criminal justice system for drug-related crimes is startling. Between 1980 and 1997, drug arrests tripled to 1,584,000; 80 percent were for possession (U.S. Department of Justice, 1999b). In 1980, 6 percent of the offenders in State prisons and 25 percent of the offenders in Federal prisons had been incarcerated for drug offenses. By 1996, there had been an elevenfold increase in the number of inmates in State prisons on drug offenses, and drug offenders constituted 23 percent of the State prison population. For Federal prisons, the increase over the 15-year period was twelvefold, with drug offenders constituting 60 percent of the prison population.
Incarceration Generation: Nicholas' Update
26 year old Nicholas turned to gang-life at an early age which resulted in a lengthy prison sentence. Now, on the eve of his parole, he must consider how to move forward for his own good, and for the good of his family.
New research shows that ex-offenders are often severely stifled in making social progress upon re-entering society. And for former inmates who face being stigmatized as a threat by potential employers and others, climbing out of poverty is nearly impossible and can take decades.