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In 1975, the United States set a new record with 240,593 prisoners incarcerated by state or federal agencies. The United States achieved new record totals during each of the next 34 years. Today, there are over 1,500,000 prisoners in the United States. Over one quarter of the world's entire population of prisoners is located in the United States.
The U.S. Education deparment reports state and local government expenditures on prisons (and jails - not reflected in this dataset) have increased about three times as fast as spending on elementary and secondary education during this time period. Does this significant investment into imprisonment improve public safety? This dataset brings together crime and incarceration statistics to help researchers explore this relationship.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics administers the National Prisoners Statistics Program (NPS), an annual data collection effort that began in response to a 1926 congressional mandate. The population statistics reflect each state's prisoner population as of December 31 for the recorded year. Prisoners listed under federal jurisdiction are incarcerated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) has served as the FBI's primary national data collection tool since a 1930 congressional mandate directed the Attorney General to "acquire, collect, classify, and preserve identification, criminal identification, crime, and other records." The FBI collects this information voluntarily submitted by local, state, and fedral law enforcement agencies. Some U.S. municipalities choose not to participate fully in the program. The crimes_estimated field indicates cases where the FBI estimated state totals due to lack of participation by some municipalities within a state. The crime_reporting_change field reflects instances when states' reporting standards change. For more information on the responsible use of this dataset, please see Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics: Their Proper Use
State and Federal prisoner population figures published by Bureau of Justice Statistics.
State crime and population statistics published by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. https://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/RunCrimeStatebyState.cfm
Banner Photo by Oscar Söderlund on Unsplash
What is the relationship between incarceration rates and crime rates? Does mass incarceration improve public safety? See below for some recent statements from U.S. politicians related to the relationship between crime and incarceration. Are the data consistent with any of these statements?
"There is no better way to reduce crime than to identify, target, and incapacitate those hardened criminals... we cannot incapacitate these criminals unless we build sufficient prison and jail space to house them. " - Nominee for 85th U.S. Attorney General William Barr, October 28, 1992
"Violent crime has declined since the 1980s because mandatory minimums adopted then locked up violent criminals." - Senator Tom Cotton, August 15, 2018
"You may assume mass incarceration exists because people are committing more crimes. But that is not true... The incredibly costly reality is that prisons in our nation continue to grow irrespective of crime rates. It is a bureaucracy that has been expanding independent of our security or safety." - Senator Cory Booker, Apr 28, 2015
"It is far from clear whether this dramatic increase in incarceration for drug crimes has had enough of an effect on property and violent crime rates to justify the human toll of more incarceration." - Senator Ted Cruz, Apr 27, 2015
"For several decades, tough laws and long sentences have created the illusion that public safety is best served when we treat all offenders the same way: arrest, convict, incarcerate..." - Senator Kamala Harris, Apr 27, 2015
"We've got some space to put some people! We need to reverse a trend that suggested that criminals won't be confronted seriously with their crimes" - 84th U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, March 15, 2018