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Incarceration Rates, U.S.

Rates of incarceration in U.S. prisons and jails are key statistics used to compare different jurisdictions, to assess the status of particular groups in the system, and to understand the impact of changes on correctional laws, policies, and practices. This entry addresses rates of incarceration, specifically how rates are calculated and interpreted; long-term trends in U.S. incarceration rates; rates by gender, race, and ethnicity; international rates; what causes rates to change; and policy reforms that might reduce rates of incarceration.

Rates Explained

Inmate counts can fluctuate along with the general population. To enable analysis of other system and societal factors in the number incarcerated, rates are used to standardize differences in population over time or across different states or countries. Rates are calculated by dividing the incarcerated ...

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