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US prison population continues to rise to almost 2.2 million people

[JURIST] The US prison and jail population added prisoners [press release] from mid-2004 to mid-2005 at a rate of 2.6 percent and more than 1,000 new inmates a week, reaching a total of 2,186,230 inmates behind bars according to a Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics [official website] report [summary; PDF text] released Sunday. Prisons received 1.4 million of the new prisoners, while jails received almost 750,000 new prisoners. Much of the gain is due to a large rise in the jail population, where 62 percent of inmates have not been convicted yet. The Bureau Chief of Corrections Statistics Allen J. Beck believes that "judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial."

Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma added the most prisoners, while Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire added the least. The statistics show that 738 out of every 100,000 residents became inmates in June 2005, while only 725 out of 100,000 joined the prison population as of June 2004. The racial makeup of the prison population remained steady, but the number of women incarcerated in the US for a period of over a year is on a large upswing, growing 757 percent between 1997 and 2004 [JURIST report], according to a report [text] released Sunday by the Women’s Prison Association [advocacy website]. AP has more.

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