The Correctional Population Has Outpaced Population Growth By a Factor of 6

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The US correctional population, which includes persons in jails, prisons, and under community supervision, grew 259% since 1980, while the overall US population has grown by just 42% over that time (Fig. 93). The incarcerated population (confined individuals) has grown by 329% since 1980. However, these trends slowed in the decade preceding 2016. The US correctional population fell by 726,100 people, and the incarcerated population fell by 134,000 people between 2007 and 2016.

In 2016, Blacks made up 27% of all arrests and 33% of all prisoners while only making up 12% of the total population. Hispanics, meanwhile, constituted 18% of all arrests and 23% of all prisoners, while making up 18% of the total population (Fig. 94). Despite the incarceration rate (the incarcerated population divided by the total population) of Blacks falling more than that of Whites between 2000 and 2016, Blacks were still more than five times as likely to be incarcerated than Whites in 2016 (1.25% incarceration rate for Blacks, 0.23% incarceration rate for Whites).