Some statistics swiped from the NY Times, which in turn based its article on a Department of Justice report released last week:
* At the end of last year, 1 of every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or on supervised release.
* An estimated 2.38 million people were incarcerated in state and federal facilities, an increase of 2.8 percent over 2005.
* Of that 2.38 million, 38% are Black.
* Of that 2.38 million, a bit under 5% are women. “The female jail and prison population has grown at double the rate for men since 1980; in 2006 it increased 4.5 percent, its fastest clip in five years.”
* About 15,000 people were held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, an increase of 43 percent over last year.
* “In several states, incarceration rates for blacks were more than 10 times the rate of whites. In Iowa, for example, blacks were imprisoned at 13.6 times the rate of whites, according to an analysis of the data by the Sentencing Project.”
* “Still, many prison systems are accommodating record numbers of inmates by using facilities that were never meant to provide bed space. Arizona has for years held inmates in tent encampments on prison grounds. Hundreds of California prisoners sleep in three-tier bunk beds in gymnasiums or day rooms. Prisons throughout the nation have made meeting rooms for educational and treatment programs into cell space.”
Although the article doesn’t mention this, an increase in shared dormitories is more-or-less guaranteed to mean an increase in prisoner-on-prisoner rape; getting rid of dormitory-style housing — in which prisoners never have any place they can go to be safe from other prisoners — is one way scholars suggest for designing less rape-prone prisons. (This is more of an issue for male prisoners than female prisoners, since male prisoners are typically raped by other prisoners, whereas female prisoners are typically raped by male prison staffers.)