The three-year decline in America’s prison population, a reversal of multiple decades of increase, saw a concurrent decrease in the number of Americans held for property, drug, and immigration offenses, and an increase in those incarcerated for violent offenses.
This conclusion is based on data made available Wednesday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The BJS’s most recent report, Prisoners in 2016, found that state and federal incarceration levels had dropped for three years in a row between 2014 and 2016, reversing decades of near-continuous growth.
In addition to providing data on overall levels of incarceration, the BJS breaks down those statistics by, among other variables, type of offense. Its most recent report provides state-level distribution of offenses through the end of 2015, and federal-level distribution through September 2016. Over the period of the decline (2014 through 2016 inclusive), federal prisons accounted for about 12 percent of overall incarceration, while state prisons were responsible for the other 88 percent.
At both levels, prison populations declined, and similar patterns occurred in the changes in the distributions of offenses.
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