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What percentage of Americans are in prison?

  1. Ari Lamstein profile image81
    Ari Lamsteinposted 5 years ago

    What percentage of Americans are in prison?

    I recently heard on TV that 1 out of ever 132 Americans is currently in prison.  However, I find that hard to believe; I simply cannot imagine that the real number is that high.  Can anyone provide me with an authoritative source which states the accurate statistic of Americans currently in prison?


  2. Eric L. Andrews profile image56
    Eric L. Andrewsposted 5 years ago

    I have read in the past that at any one given time, about 3 million Americans are locked up in jails and prisons.  So, that is about 1% of the population.  I believe that about 10% of our population are convicted felons.  It is due to our mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug possession, started under President Ronald Reagan; as most people incarcerated are in there for drugs.  Then you toss in the violence pervasive in America.  Sad, but true.

  3. ptosis profile image72
    ptosisposted 5 years ago


    that's why USA is called prison nation, while China simply executes them. Between parole, probation and incarceration - it is a very large percentage.

    Highest adult prison population :Nevada
    Highest children Prison population: Nevada again.

    Everything in Nevada is a freaking felony - it's because of the legal gambling and prostitution that was started by Bugsy Malone. Has more felonies that in any other state of the union.

    1. 910chris profile image78
      910chrisposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Union? I haven't heard America called that in a long time. I wish we would unite to take on a common enemy, "Big Government"; but that is nothing more than a pipe dream.

    2. Eric L. Andrews profile image56
      Eric L. Andrewsposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Housing, feeding and clothing inmates is a multi-billion dollar per year industry.  Now there are private companies and contractors doing most of it, including supplying security guards.  Someone is making some bank on this one.

    3. derek gulbranson profile image79
      derek gulbransonposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      When talking about things that effect less than 1% of the population, drastic differences are common. 1/10th of a % could equal a 5 fold increase. 714 per 100,000 (aka 0.714%) equals ~2800 times less likely than dying from obesity, for example.

  4. 910chris profile image78
    910chrisposted 5 years ago

    This is what I found.

    According to a 2005 report of the International Centre for Prison Studies in London, the United States—with five percent of the world’s population—houses 25 percent of the world’s inmates. Our incarceration rate (714 per 100,000 residents) is almost 40 percent greater than those of our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). Other industrial democracies, even those with significant crime problems of their own, are much less punitive: our incarceration rate is 6.2 times that of Canada, 7.8 times that of France, and 12.3 times that of Japan. We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century.

    In December 2006, some 2.25 million persons were being held in the nearly 5,000 prisons and jails that are scattered across America’s urban and rural landscapes.

    1. Ari Lamstein profile image81
      Ari Lamsteinposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Great answer.  Can you provide a source for these statistics?

  5. profile image0
    Old Empresarioposted 5 years ago

    Everyone produced good answers, so I won't beat a dead horse. But I will say this: don't ask "what is the percentage of the population in prison?". Ask what percentage of the ADULT MALE population is either IN PRISON, PAROLED, or is an ex-felon. That percentage is staggering for the "freest nation in the world". If drugs and victimless crimes were made legal, this number would drop significantly.

    1. Ari Lamstein profile image81
      Ari Lamsteinposted 5 years agoin reply to this

      Do you know what these numbers actually are?