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Increase in U.S. Prison Population Signals a Shift in Decade-Long Trend

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According to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the number of inmates in state and federal prisons in the United States grew in 2022, breaking a downward trend that had persisted since 2013.

The count for 2022 revealed a 2% increase with 1,230,100 prisoners, compared to the 1,205,100 prisoners in 2021. Notably, this rise in the prison population was partly driven by an increase in the number of women incarcerated. Female inmates grew by 5% from 83,710 in 2021 to 87,800 in 2022.

Several states experienced significant increases in their prison populations over the past year. Texas led with an addition of 5,900 inmates, followed by Florida with 4,300 more prisoners and Mississippi with 2,500 more inmates.

The state of New York also saw a rise in its prison population for the first time since 2003, adding 800 inmates and bringing the total to 31,100. On the other hand, California witnessed the largest drop, with a reduction of 3,800 inmates. Virginia closely followed with a decrease of 3,200, while Oregon had a more modest reduction of 700 prisoners.

In 2022, 10,100 prisoners were released under the First Step Act, a federal law enacted during the presidency of Donald Trump which allows inmates to earn credits for good behavior and apply them towards early release. However, despite the releases, there were still 20,800 more admissions than releases throughout the year.

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The racial composition of the U.S. prison population in 2022 reveals that 32% were Black, 31% were White, 23% were Hispanic, 2% were American Indian or Alaska Native, 1% were Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 11% were multiracial or identified with another race. These figures demonstrate the diversity within the incarcerated population.

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Overall, the increase in the U.S. prison population in 2022 marks a noteworthy shift from the downward trend observed over the past decade.

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