- An estimated 77% of prisoners in federal prisons are U.S. citizens, followed by Mexicans (15.9%), which represent the largest immigrant group in the U.S., and Unknown citizens (4.9%).
- The majority of inmates in federal prisons are between the ages of 31-40 and are male (93.3%)
- Statistics show that the majority of offenders are males, regardless of the crime. Females, however, are more likely to offend or commit a crime against males than against other females.
- White offenders were more likely than their Black/African American counterparts to attack a female (991).
- African American males are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white males.
Prisons in the U.S.
The United States has one of the world’s highest prison population, as we reported in our Prisoners Worldwide database. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 2.2 million people in the United States were in prison in 2013. Approximately 1.2 million prisoners were in state prisons, followed by local jails (731,200), and federal prisons (215,000).
This Silk aims to provide an overview of prisons in the United States by focusing on its federal prison population, in addition to its respective age, gender, ethnicity, race, and crime and arrest data.
How to Use This Silk: Browse the charts and maps below. Click "Explore" anywhere on the site to go into visualization and filtering mode. Search for individual pages or entities in the top search box.
Country of Nationality (2015)
According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons, as of July 2015, an estimated 77% of prisoners in federal prisons are U.S. citizens, followed by Mexicans (15.9%), which represent the largest immigrant group in the U.S., and Unknown (4.9%).
Age Distribution (2015)
Number of Inmates in U.S. Federal Prisons, by Age.
In terms of age distribution, the majority of inmates in federal prisons are between the ages of 31-40. Trends in the age distribution of inmates in federal prisons take a “pyramid-like” structure, with few inmates in prisons that are under the age of 22 or over the age of 51.
Gender Distribution (2015)
Number of Inmates in U.S. Federal Prisons, by Gender.
The majority of inmates in federal prisons are male (93.3%) and very few are female (6.7%). Such statistics are also in line with the gender distribution in state prisons in the U.S. as well as worldwide prison trends. In general, men are more likely to commit a crime than women. This pattern is observed by multiple studies, including the prominent study by Rowe, Flannery, and Vazsonyi (1995).
Number of Inmates in U.S. Federal Prisons, by Ethnicity.
Number of Inmates in U.S. Federal Prisons, by Race.
When analyzing the ethnicity of inmates, the Federal Bureau of Investigation found that the majority of them are predominately non-hispanic. This is somewhat unsurprising as "non-hispanic" is a very broad term and is applicable to much of the U.S. population.
In terms of total population, more than half of inmates in U.S. federal prisons are white (59%), followed by Blacks which represent 37.5% of the federal prison population. However, as will be indicated in the next graph, Blacks represent the majority of inmates in the U.S., when it comes to the rate of incarceration and population, per capita.
Further, as indicated by the graph, very few inmates are of Native American or Asian origin.
Incarceration Rate (2010)
Percentage of US Population and Incarcerated Population in Federal and State Prisons, by Race or Ethnicity. (2010)
The data in this graph is taken from a 2010 Prison Policy Initiative database. It shows that 39% of Whites and 40% of Blacks were incarcerated in the U.S. at the time; however, Whites represent over 60% of the population and Blacks represent an estimated 13% of the U.S. population. In this case, far more Blacks (per capita) are incarcerated than Whites.
Expanded Homicide Data (2013)
Sex of Offender
The following sections present expanded homicide data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The data shown in this graph represents a breakdown of homicide offenders by the sex/gender of the offender. Statistics show that the majority of offenders are males, regardless of the crime. Females, however, are more likely to offend or commit a crime against males than other females.
Race of Offender
Data regarding the race of offenders shows that the majority of White offenders are more likely to commit a crime against a White victim. Similarly, the majority of Black/African American offenders are more likely to attack another Black/African person.
Furthermore, White offenders were more likely than their Black/African American counterparts to attack a female (991).
Ethnicity of Offender
In terms of Ethnicity, the majority of the cases in the FBI’s database listed many of the offenders as having an “unknown” ethnicity. As expected, however, the majority of offenders were not Hispanic or Latino––which, as mentioned earlier, is in line with the make-up of the U.S. population.
Arrest Statistics (2013)
Arrests by Race of Offender
Arrests by Race of Offender, by number of offenders. (2013)
According to a 2013 report by the Sentencing Project, African American males are six times more likely to be incarcerated than white males. Despite this, FBI arrest data shows that more Whites than Blacks were arrested for every offense in this list, with the exception of gambling, robbery and murder/non-negligent manslaughter.
Arrests by Race of Offender, by percentage of distribution. (2013)
Both of these graphs show the distribution of offenses that led to arrests, by ethnicity. As indicated, non-hispanics/latinos were more likely to be arrested for suspicion, offenses against the family and children, fraud, embezzlement, and disorderly conduct. On the other hand, the majority of hispanics and latinos were arrested for sex offenses (those that did not involve rape or prostitution), motor vehicle theft, weapon possession, aggravated assault, and violent arson crimes.