Special Report

The Annual Incarceration Rate of Every State

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With over 2 million people in prison, the United States locks up more of its citizens than any other country in the world. Even adjusting for population, the U.S. incarceration rate of 629 per 100,000 people is the highest in the world, according to the London-based World Prison Brief, Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research.

But when it comes to putting people behind bars, America’s prison population is only the tip of the iceberg. The amount of time most people who are placed under arrest spend behind bars ranges from only a matter of days to a few months. And as a result, many of them are not counted in the reported total prison population. 

Each year, an average of about 4.9 million people are put in jail – more than double the reported prison population – and over 25% of them are jailed more than once. 

Using data on unique jail admissions from the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-profit research organization, 24/7 Tempo determined how many people in each state go to local jails every year.

Depending on the state, the number of people booked into local jails each year ranges from 8,000 to over 500,000. Adjusting for population, jail admissions rates in the 50 states start at 934 bookings per 100,000 people, and go as high as 2,888 per 100,000. 

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, arrest rates correlate with certain racial and socioeconomic indicators. Black Americans and those with low educational attainment, for example, are at increased risk of arrest in the United States. Additionally, unemployed Americans, as well as those who live below the poverty line, are more likely to be arrested multiple times, even though the vast majority of these groups do not pose a serious public safety risk. (Here is a look at the cities where police are better funded than health and social services.)

Notably, across the 50 states, there is little correlation between crime rates of the most serious offenses tracked by the FBI – such as homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft – and jail admissions. Rates for these types of crimes, for the most recent year of complete data, correlate more strongly with imprisonment rates, a reflection of longer-term incarceration. (Here is a look at the cities with the most car thefts.)

Methodology

To determine how many people in each state go to local jails – city or county institutions, as opposed to state or federal prisons – every year, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on unique jail admissions from the Prison Policy Initiative. (Note, though, that in six states – Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont – the jail system is mostly or entirely integrated into the state prison system.) States were ranked based on the number of unique jail admissions per 100,000 residents from 2016 to 2017. Supplemental data on the number of violent and property crimes reported per 100,000 residents is from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report. Data on total population is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and are one-year estimates.

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50. California
> Annual unique jail admissions: 934 per 100,000 residents (368,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 442 per 100,000 residents (16th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,139 per 100,000 residents (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.3% (21st highest)
> Total population: 39,237,836 (the largest)

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49. New Jersey
> Annual unique jail admissions: 956 per 100,000 residents (86,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 195 per 100,000 residents (5th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,158 per 100,000 residents (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.2% (8th lowest)
> Total population: 9,267,130 (11th largest)

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48. Oregon
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,021 per 100,000 residents (42,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 292 per 100,000 residents (15th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,659 per 100,000 residents (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (23rd highest)
> Total population: 4,246,155 (24th smallest)

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47. Massachusetts
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,023 per 100,000 residents (70,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 309 per 100,000 residents (19th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,053 per 100,000 residents (the lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (11th lowest)
> Total population: 6,984,723 (15th largest)

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46. Utah
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,041 per 100,000 residents (32,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 261 per 100,000 residents (12th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,464 per 100,000 residents (11th highest)
> Poverty rate: 8.6% (2nd lowest)
> Total population: 3,337,975 (21st smallest)

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44. Hawaii
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,050 per 100,000 residents (15,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 254 per 100,000 residents (10th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,411 per 100,000 residents (12th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (18th lowest)
> Total population: 1,441,553 (11th smallest)

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45. Maine
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,050 per 100,000 residents (14,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 109 per 100,000 residents (the lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,156 per 100,000 residents (4th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (21st lowest)
> Total population: 1,372,247 (9th smallest)

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43. Minnesota
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,243 per 100,000 residents (69,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 277 per 100,000 residents (13th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,125 per 100,000 residents (20th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (3rd lowest)
> Total population: 5,707,390 (22nd largest)

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42. North Carolina
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,253 per 100,000 residents (128,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 419 per 100,000 residents (21st highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,226 per 100,000 residents (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.4% (15th highest)
> Total population: 10,551,162 (9th largest)

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41. Connecticut
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,254 per 100,000 residents (45,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 182 per 100,000 residents (4th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,565 per 100,000 residents (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.1% (6th lowest)
> Total population: 3,605,597 (22nd smallest)

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40. Iowa
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,275 per 100,000 residents (40,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 303 per 100,000 residents (17th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,698 per 100,000 residents (18th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.1% (17th lowest)
> Total population: 3,193,079 (20th smallest)

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39. Nevada
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,280 per 100,000 residents (38,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 460 per 100,000 residents (12th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,927 per 100,000 residents (24th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (11th highest)
> Total population: 3,143,991 (19th smallest)

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38. Ohio
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,289 per 100,000 residents (150,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 309 per 100,000 residents (18th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,850 per 100,000 residents (22nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.4% (16th highest)
> Total population: 11,780,017 (7th largest)

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37. Virginia
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,315 per 100,000 residents (111,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 209 per 100,000 residents (6th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,456 per 100,000 residents (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.2% (7th lowest)
> Total population: 8,642,274 (12th largest)

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36. Pennsylvania
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,329 per 100,000 residents (170,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 390 per 100,000 residents (24th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,644 per 100,000 residents (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.1% (25th lowest)
> Total population: 12,964,056 (5th largest)

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35. Washington
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,335 per 100,000 residents (98,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 294 per 100,000 residents (16th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,732 per 100,000 residents (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (5th lowest)
> Total population: 7,738,692 (13th largest)

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34. New York
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,346 per 100,000 residents (267,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 364 per 100,000 residents (25th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,411 per 100,000 residents (10th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.9% (13th highest)
> Total population: 19,835,913 (4th largest)

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33. Illinois
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,350 per 100,000 residents (173,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 426 per 100,000 residents (18th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,559 per 100,000 residents (13th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.1% (25th highest)
> Total population: 12,671,469 (6th largest)

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32. Wyoming
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,374 per 100,000 residents (8,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 234 per 100,000 residents (8th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,611 per 100,000 residents (16th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (19th lowest)
> Total population: 578,803 (the smallest)

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31. Maryland
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,375 per 100,000 residents (83,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 400 per 100,000 residents (23rd highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,610 per 100,000 residents (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.3% (10th lowest)
> Total population: 6,165,129 (19th largest)

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30. Vermont
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,443 per 100,000 residents (9,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 173 per 100,000 residents (3rd lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,217 per 100,000 residents (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.3% (9th lowest)
> Total population: 645,570 (2nd smallest)

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29. Alaska
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,485 per 100,000 residents (11,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 838 per 100,000 residents (the highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,261 per 100,000 residents (13th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.5% (12th lowest)
> Total population: 732,673 (3rd smallest)

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28. Arkansas
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,502 per 100,000 residents (45,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 672 per 100,000 residents (4th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,613 per 100,000 residents (8th highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.3% (6th highest)
> Total population: 3,025,891 (18th smallest)

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27. Colorado
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,562 per 100,000 residents (87,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 423 per 100,000 residents (20th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,834 per 100,000 residents (3rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (4th lowest)
> Total population: 5,812,069 (21st largest)

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26. Nebraska
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,568 per 100,000 residents (30,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 334 per 100,000 residents (22nd lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,909 per 100,000 residents (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (13th lowest)
> Total population: 1,963,692 (14th smallest)

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25. Idaho
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,590 per 100,000 residents (27,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 243 per 100,000 residents (9th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,112 per 100,000 residents (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (15th lowest)
> Total population: 1,900,923 (13th smallest)

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24. Michigan
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,639 per 100,000 residents (163,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 478 per 100,000 residents (10th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,361 per 100,000 residents (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.1% (18th highest)
> Total population: 10,050,811 (10th largest)

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23. Arizona
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,680 per 100,000 residents (117,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 485 per 100,000 residents (9th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,228 per 100,000 residents (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.8% (19th highest)
> Total population: 7,276,316 (14th largest)

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22. Florida
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,681 per 100,000 residents (350,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 384 per 100,000 residents (25th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,769 per 100,000 residents (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.1% (17th highest)
> Total population: 21,781,128 (3rd largest)

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21. North Dakota
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,721 per 100,000 residents (13,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 329 per 100,000 residents (21st lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,124 per 100,000 residents (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.1% (16th lowest)
> Total population: 774,948 (4th smallest)

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20. Montana
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,723 per 100,000 residents (18,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 470 per 100,000 residents (11th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,121 per 100,000 residents (22nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.9% (24th lowest)
> Total population: 1,104,271 (8th smallest)

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19. Tennessee
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,751 per 100,000 residents (117,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 673 per 100,000 residents (3rd highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,493 per 100,000 residents (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (14th highest)
> Total population: 6,975,218 (16th largest)

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18. South Carolina
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,783 per 100,000 residents (89,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 531 per 100,000 residents (7th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,721 per 100,000 residents (5th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.6% (9th highest)
> Total population: 5,190,705 (23rd largest)

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17. Rhode Island
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,795 per 100,000 residents (19,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 231 per 100,000 residents (7th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,245 per 100,000 residents (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (20th lowest)
> Total population: 1,095,610 (7th smallest)

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16. Texas
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,797 per 100,000 residents (505,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 446 per 100,000 residents (15th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,245 per 100,000 residents (14th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.2% (10th highest)
> Total population: 29,527,941 (2nd largest)

15. Indiana
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,834 per 100,000 residents (122,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 358 per 100,000 residents (24th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,783 per 100,000 residents (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (24th highest)
> Total population: 6,805,985 (17th largest)

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14. Louisiana
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,836 per 100,000 residents (86,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 639 per 100,000 residents (5th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,884 per 100,000 residents (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.6% (the highest)
> Total population: 4,624,047 (25th largest)

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13. Alabama
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,849 per 100,000 residents (90,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 454 per 100,000 residents (14th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,137 per 100,000 residents (19th highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.1% (7th highest)
> Total population: 5,039,877 (24th largest)

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12. West Virginia
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,866 per 100,000 residents (34,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 356 per 100,000 residents (23rd lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,399 per 100,000 residents (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.8% (4th highest)
> Total population: 1,782,959 (12th smallest)

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11. New Hampshire
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,867 per 100,000 residents (25,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 146 per 100,000 residents (2nd lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,099 per 100,000 residents (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 7.2% (the lowest)
> Total population: 1,388,992 (10th smallest)

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10. Delaware
> Annual unique jail admissions: 1,880 per 100,000 residents (18,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 432 per 100,000 residents (17th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,961 per 100,000 residents (25th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.6% (22nd lowest)
> Total population: 1,003,384 (6th smallest)

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9. Kentucky
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,002 per 100,000 residents (89,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 259 per 100,000 residents (11th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,780 per 100,000 residents (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (5th highest)
> Total population: 4,509,394 (25th smallest)

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8. Kansas
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,062 per 100,000 residents (60,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 425 per 100,000 residents (19th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,199 per 100,000 residents (17th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (23rd lowest)
> Total population: 2,934,582 (16th smallest)

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7. Missouri
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,098 per 100,000 residents (128,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 543 per 100,000 residents (6th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,531 per 100,000 residents (9th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (20th highest)
> Total population: 6,168,187 (18th largest)

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6. Wisconsin
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,230 per 100,000 residents (129,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 323 per 100,000 residents (20th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 1,486 per 100,000 residents (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (14th lowest)
> Total population: 5,895,908 (20th largest)

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5. Georgia
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,275 per 100,000 residents (236,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 400 per 100,000 residents (22nd highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,007 per 100,000 residents (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (12th highest)
> Total population: 10,799,566 (8th largest)

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4. New Mexico
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,348 per 100,000 residents (49,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 778 per 100,000 residents (2nd highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,842 per 100,000 residents (2nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.4% (3rd highest)
> Total population: 2,115,877 (15th smallest)

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3. Oklahoma
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,445 per 100,000 residents (96,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 459 per 100,000 residents (13th highest)
> Property crime rate: 2,706 per 100,000 residents (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.6% (8th highest)
> Total population: 3,986,639 (23rd smallest)

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2. Mississippi
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,814 per 100,000 residents (84,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 291 per 100,000 residents (14th lowest)
> Property crime rate: 2,102 per 100,000 residents (23rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.4% (2nd highest)
> Total population: 2,949,965 (17th smallest)

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1. South Dakota
> Annual unique jail admissions: 2,888 per 100,000 residents (25,000 total)
> Violent crime rate: 501 per 100,000 residents (8th highest)
> Property crime rate: 1,957 per 100,000 residents (25th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.3% (22nd highest)
> Total population: 895,376 (5th smallest)

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