Number of People Serving Time in Jails in the US

"County and city jails in the United States held 738,400 inmates at midyear 2018 (table 1), a decline of 6% from 785,500 inmates held in 2008. The midyear population remained relatively stable from 2011 to 2018. At midyear 2018, about one-third of jail inmates (248,500) were sentenced or awaiting sentencing on a conviction, while about two-thirds (490,000) were awaiting court action on a current charge or were held for other reasons.

Forty Percent of People in Prison and Jail Report Using Drugs at the Time of Their Offense

"During 2007-09, about 4 in 10 state prisoners (42%) and sentenced jail inmates (37%) said they used drugs at the time of the offense for which they were currently incarcerated (table 6). Among prisoners, 22% reported marijuana/hashish use at time of the offense, 16% reported cocaine/crack use, 11% reported stimulant use, and 7% reported heroin/opiate use. Among sentenced jail inmates, 19% reported using marijuana/hashish at time of the offense, 13% reported cocaine/crack use, and 8% reported stimulant and heroin/opiate use."

Total Number of Adults Incarcerated in US Prisons and Jails

"On December 31, 2018, an estimated 2,123,100 persons were either under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails, which was 30,500 fewer persons than in 2017. By year-end 2018, the number of persons incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails fell to the lowest level since 2003, when 2,086,500 persons were incarcerated (not shown in tables).

More Than 60 Percent of People Held in US Jails Have Not Been Convicted

"Since 2005, more than 60% of all jail inmates were awaiting court action on a current charge. About 4 in 10 inmates were sentenced offenders or convicted offenders awaiting sentencing. The growth in the overall jail inmate population since 2000 was due to the increase in the unconvicted population. Regardless of conviction status, about 68% of jail inmates in 2015 were held for a felony offense, and the remaining 32% were held for either misdemeanor (27%) or other offenses (5%) (not shown)."

Growth of Jails in the US 2000-2016

US jails held, as confined inmates, 621,149 people in 2000; 767,434 people in 2009; 748,728 people in 2010; 735,601 people in 2011; 744,524 people in 2012; 731,208 people in 2013; 744,592 people in 2014; 727,400 people in 2015; and 740,700 people in 2016.
The above are mid-year counts of inmates confined by local jails on the last weekday of June for each year. Counts were estimated from the Annual Survey of Jails.

Jail Inmate Population in the US by Gender and Race/Ethnicity

City and county jails in the US held 738,400 people at on June 29, 2018. ("Rates are based on the number of inmates held on the last weekday in June.")

Demographics on that date are as follows:
623,400 male, 115,100 female.
Juveniles: 3,700 held as adults, 600 held as juveniles.
Racial demographics were as follows:
White: 368,500
Black: 242,300
Latinx: 109,300
American Indian/Alaska native: 9,700
Asian/native Hawaiian/other Pacific islander: 4,800
"Other," including two or more races: 2,100

Number of people held in US State or Federal Prisons or in Local Jails, by Type of Facility, 2000 and 2007-2016

In 2016, there were 2,157,800 people behind bars in the US. This includes state and federal prisons as well as local and county jails. Of these, 188,300 people were federal prisoners, and 1,288,800 were state prisoners, and local jails held a total of 740,700 people. The incarceration rate in 2016 was 670 people per 100,000 US residents of all ages. The adult incarceration rate in 2016 was 870 people per 100,000 US residents aged 18 or older.

Click here for the complete data table for 2000 and 2007-2016.