US Criminal Justice Population Tops 7 Million

Washington, DC: A record 7 million citizens approximately one out of every 32 American adults is either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, according to statistics released by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) this week.

The DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 2.2 million Americans are behind bars and more than 4.1 million Americans are on probation. Nearly 800,000 citizens are on parole.

The report states that the incarceration of drug offenders is primarily responsible for the record growth of America’s prison population, noting that from 1995 to 2003, federal drug inmates accounted for almost 50 percent of the total federal prison population growth. Drug offenders also represent the largest source of jail population growth, up nearly 40 percent since 1996.

Among state prisoners, approximately 21 percent are behind bars for drug violations.

In October, the BJS released data indicating that nearly one in eight drug prisoners in America are behind bars for marijuana-related offenses.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.