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With well over 2 million individuals confined in jails and prisons in the United States, it is easy to understand why the federal prison system and 24 state prison systems were above their rated capacity at the end of 2004. The data supplied by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that the federal prison system had the highest rate of overcrowding in 2004 (140%), but this was only because states such as Alabama, California, Delaware, and Illinois housed a significant portion of their inmate populations in private and contract facilities. Local and county jails held 747,529 offenders in mid-2005, which represents approximately one third of the incarcerated population. These facilities were at 95% capacity, although this figure is deceptive because research indicates that smaller jails ...

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