After almost ten years of decline U.S. prison population grew in 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – New figures released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that the prison population has grown for the first time in almost a decade. These numbers reveal:

• 36 states and the federal government increased prison populations in 2022, led by Mississippi whose prison population grew 15%.

• Overall, the U.S. prison population in 2022 grew 2% last year, reaching a total of 1,185,648 people.

• The growth in women’s imprisonment from 2021 to 2022 was more than double (4%) that of men (1.5%).

• People of color remain massively overrepresented in prisons, accounting for nearly 7 in 10 people in prison.

• The number of youth held in adult prisons jumped 50% between 2021 and 2022, a remarkable departure from the steady decline since 2009.

Fifty years since the onset of mass incarceration, the prison population remains nearly 500% larger than in 1973. Ashley Nellis, Co-Director of Research at The Sentencing Project, issued the following statement on the alarming new numbers:

“For over a decade, the country has been moving away from a failed playbook of incarceration and over-criminalization — often motivated by bipartisan consensus to reform the country’s broken criminal legal system. But the recent, temporary, uptick in crime has tested this resolve.

“Rather than succumbing to fruitless impulses to get tougher, jurisdictions should redouble their efforts to decarcerate to achieve an effective and just criminal legal system.”