By the age of 23, 1 in 3 Americans have been arrested, and as a result, between 70-100 million people in the United States have some sort of criminal record. Below are some statistics on the rate of incarceration, how incarceration affects various groups, and the cost of incarceration.


  • The United States leads the world in per capita incarceration.

  • The US accounts for only 5% of the world’s population, yet accounts for 25% of the world’s prisoners.

  • The US prison and jail population has increased 500% over the last 40 years.

  • 1 in 3 adults in the US have some sort of criminal record.

  • 1 in every 115 adults in America was in prison or jail in 2015.

  • 4.6 million people were on probation or parole in 2015.

  • 1 in every 28 children has a parent behind bars.

  • 46% of people incarcerated in state prisons were convicted of nonviolent drug, property, or public order crimes.

  • 50% of federal prison inmates were convicted of drug offenses in 2015.

  • 95% of those in prison and jail are going to be released.

  • There are nearly 5.2 million people under correctional control - that is more than the populations for Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Dallas put together.

Racial disparity*

Incarceration does not touch all communities in the same way. This is the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for US residents born in 2001:

  • 1 in 9 men

  • 1 in 17 white men

  • 1 in 3 black men

  • 1 in 6 Latino men

  • 1 in 56 women

  • 1 in 111 white women

  • 1 in 18 black women

  • 1 in 45 Latina women

*The Sentencing Project

cost of incarceration

The cost of incarceration is astronomical. In Michigan, the total corrections expenditures in 2016 was $57,676,000.

  • The average cost to house a prisoner in Michigan is $28,000 - $35,000 per year (by comparison the cost to attend Michigan State University for a Michigan resident is $24,844 on average).

  • The Michigan Department of Corrections budget for FY 2014 was $2.0 billion - approximately 20% of the state’s general fund budget.

  • 1 in every 5 general fund dollars are spent on corrections.