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October 27, 1994, Government Reports U.S. Prison Population Doubled Within 10 Years - Today In Crime History

On this day, October 27, in the year 1994, the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, released a report documenting that the prison population in the United States exceeded, for the first time,  more than one million incarcerated individuals.  The number, which included those incarcerated in state and federal prisons (but did not include those incarcerated in jails), was more than double the prison population that had been reported in 1984.

At the end of June 1994, according to the report, 1,012,851 men and women were incarcerated in state and federal prisons.  State prisons held 919,143 inmates and federal prisons held 93,708 inmates.  California (124,813) and Texas (100,136) together accounted for more than one in five inmates in the country.  The prison population grew by almost 40,000 inmates during the first half of 1994, the equivalent of more than 1,500 a week--or three additional 500-bed prisons per week.

According to the report, the incarceration rate of state and federal prisoners sentenced to more than a year reached a record 373 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents in June 1994.  The states with the highest incarceration rates were Texas (545 per 100,000 per 100,000), Louisiana (514 per 100,000), South Carolina (504 per 100,000) and Oklahoma (501 per 100,000 ).  The lowest incarceration rate was North Dakota, with 75 per 100,000 residents. Next was Minnesota, with 100 per 100,000 residents, followed by West Virginia with 106 per 100,000 and Maine with 113 per 100,000.

Between 1984 and 1994 the report documented that the U.S. prison population doubled on a per capita basis.  During that 10-year period, the incarceration rate doubled both for white inmates and black inmates.  At the end of 1993 there were 1,432 black inmates per 100,000 black U.S. residents and 203 white inmates per 100,000 white residents.

The report did not include the approximately 440,000 people in jails, often awaiting trial or sentenced to short terms.

Allen Beck, deputy associate director of the statistics bureau, was quoted as saying "about half of the growth . . . in the last decade is linked directly to people entering prisons for drug-law violations."

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