Prison Facts

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Federal and State Prisons   1,518,559

Territorial Prisons                 13,576

Local Jails                           785,556

ICE Facilities                        9,957

Military Facilities                 1,651

Jails in Indian Country         2,135

Juvenile Facilities                92,845 

The total population of incarcerated inmates for 2008  2,424,279                                                                                                   

The United States leads the industrialized world in incarceration. In fact, the U.S. rate of incarceration is five to eight times that of other highly developed countries. More than one in 100 adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison. They`re fifteen states that have a population less than that of the total population in prisons and jails. (click on image)



The Prison population in the United States is growing at an alarming rate.


Over 7.2 million persons on probation or parole or incarcerated in jail or prison at year-end 2006. “About 3.2% of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults, were incarcerated or on probation or parole at year-end 2006.” (click on image)


Hidden within our country is a dark, parallel world — a Prison Nation that is inhabited by 2.4 million American convicts. Increasing violence, extreme crowding, rampant drug use and gang warfare are part of daily life. Here are a few more facts about prisons. 


  • With 2.4 million inmates, America has more prisoners behind bars than any other country on earth. We now have 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated, with just five percent of the population.
  • America’s population behind bars has gone up 1,000 percent in the last three decades. Get-tough-on-crime legislation and minimum sentencing laws are blamed for the explosion of inmates. Of all prisoners, 95 percent will be released. Half of them are currently serving a term of two years or less.
  • According to correctional officers, drugs find their way inside even the most secure facilities, but the more secure a facility, the higher the price. Drugs regularly go for up to twenty times their street value behind bars.
  • Among prisoners, 35 percent are drug addicts; 80 percent are drug users. One study found that 34 percent of drug users return to state prison within a year.
  • Since many correction departments have outlawed tobacco in prisons, the going rate for cigarettes in some prisons has skyrocketed from pocket change to $5 per cigarette. A thimbleful of tobacco goes for as much as $50.
  • There are as many as 5,000 prisons or jails in the U.S., employing at least 430,000 people as staff or correctional officers.
  • In 2001, the average cost per inmate in state prisons is $22,650 per year or $62.05 a day. The taxpayer price tag is twice as much as just 15 years ago.
  • The number of female inmates is increasing almost twice as fast as the men’s incarceration rate, tripling in the last decade. At least 40 percent of jailed women have minor children.
  • More than half of male inmates and roughly two-thirds of female inmates have symptoms of a serious mental illness.
  • The largest population of the mentally ill in America isn’t housed in a hospital… It’s in Los Angeles County Jail, followed by New York’s Rikers Island. In all, one-fourth of all state prison beds are occupied by the mentally ill.
  • “Solitary confinement” has a new name in prison systems: segregation. Single-celled, 23-hour lock-up units in some of these prisons are designed to limit inmates’ movement and contact with other staff or inmates. Officers can care for inmates electronically — from opening an inmate’s door, to shutting off his water, to turning off his lights.
  • More than 80,000 inmates are kept in isolation nationwide. The average stay in some states is now years.

    There is a great need to reach these people with the light of the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Prison is a dark place but, light shines brighter in the darkness. Please pray for us as we try to reach the incarcerated of America. 2 Cor. 4:6


Why must believers be concerned about prison ministry? Because…

1.         Prison ministry has a direct Scriptural mandate (Matthew 25:31-40). Throughout the Bible are examples, descriptions, and commandments about prisons, prisoners, bondage, captivity, and slavery. The Bible mentions prison, prisoners, or imprisonment more than 130 times.

2.         We should follow the example Christ set by ministering to prisoners.

3.         Prisons meet the criteria of any mission field: Lost people and a need for laborers.

4.         God is not willing that any should perish—not even serial killers, rapists, and molesters (2 Peter 3:9). God loves even the “worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

5.         Chaplains cannot minister to more than a small percentage of inmates in their care. They cannot do all of the necessary work themselves, as there is just not enough time to do so.

6.         Many jails and prisons have no professional chaplains and many have no religious services at all.

7.         For every person incarcerated, there are three to five other people affected: Mates, children, parents, etc. Inmates and their families represent a large segment of society in any culture.

8.         False religions and cults are reaching out to prisoners. We must get there first with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!