International Centre for Prison Studies

A partner of the University of Essex

United States of America

CountryUnited States of America
Ministry responsible
Department of Justice
Prison administration
Federal Bureau of Prisons, state and local correctional authorities
Contact address
320 First Street N.W, Washington DC 20534
Head of prison administration (and title)
Charles E. Samuels Jr.
Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons
Prison population total (including pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners)
2 228 424
at 2012 (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics - 744,524 in local jails at 30.6.2012, 1,483,900 in state or federal prisons at 31.12.2012)
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
based on an estimated national population of 315.1 million at end of 2012 (U.S. Census Bureau)
Pre-trial detainees / remand prisoners (percentage of prison population)
Female prisoners (percentage of prison population)
Juveniles / minors / young prisoners incl. definition (percentage of prison population)
(30.6.2009 - juveniles)
Foreign prisoners (percentage of prison population)
(of state and federal prisoners only, 31.12.2011)
Number of establishments / institutions
4 575
(3,283 local jails at 2006, 1,190 state confinement facilities at 2005, 102 federal confinement facilities at 2005)
Official capacity of prison system
2 265 000
(2011 - local jails at 30.6.2011, state and federal prisons at 31.12.2011. This figure is only an estimate since data for state prisons is incomplete.)
Occupancy level (based on official capacity)
(This estimate is based on local jail figures at 30.6.2011 and state and federal figures at 31.12.2011.)
Recent prison population trend
(year, prison population total, prison population rate)
1992 1,295,150 501
1995 1,585,586 592
1998 1,816,931 655
2001 1,961,247 685
2004 2,135,335 725
2007 2,298,041 758
2010 2,270,142 731



Pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners

The table below gives an indication of the recent trend in the pre-trial/remand prison population. The final row shows the latest figures available.

It consists of the number of pre-trial/remand prisoners in the prison population on a single date in the year (or the annual average) and the percentage of the total prison population that pre-trial/remand prisoners constituted on that day.  

The final column shows the pre-trial/remand population rate per 100,000 of the national population. 

                                                 UNITED STATES


Number in

of total
prison population

population rate
(per 100,000 of
national population)




c. 347,800

c. 463,500

c. 487,100




c. 123

c. 156

c. 157


c. 480,900


c. 153

   Note. Figures for 2010 and 2012 include pre-trial/remand prisoners in state and federal institutions (c. 30,000).

It should be noted that the number of pre-trial/remand prisoners fluctuates from day to day, month to month and year to year. Consequently the above figures give an indication of the trend but the picture is inevitably incomplete.

The pre-trial/remand population rate is calculated on the basis of the national population total. All national population figures are inevitably estimates but the estimates used in the World Prison Brief are based on official national figures, United Nations figures or figures from other recognised international authorities.