"Although no amount of policy analysis can resolve disagreements about how much punishment drug offenses deserve, research does make clear that some strategies for reducing drug use and crime are more effective than others and that imprisonment ranks near the bottom of that list. And surveys have found strong public support for changing how states and the federal government respond to drug crimes.
"Between year-end 2015 and year-end 2016, the rate of imprisonment for black adults decreased 4% (from 1,670 per 100,000 in 2015 to 1,608 per 100,000 in 2016) (figure 2). The imprisonment rate declined 29% since 2006 (2,261 per 100,000). The rate for white adults decreased 2% between 2015 (281 per 100,000) and 2016 (274 per 100,000), and it declined 15% during the past decade (324 per 100,000 in 2006). The imprisonment rate for Hispanic adults decreased 1%, from 862 per 100,000 in 2015 to 856 in 2016.
"On December 31, 2016, an estimated 2,162,400 persons were either under the jurisdiction of state or federal prisons or in the custody of local jails—10,400 fewer persons than in 2015. By year-end 2016, the number of persons incarcerated in state or federal prisons or local jails fell to the lowest level observed since 2004 (2,136,600) (not shown).
" At year-end 2016, an estimated 7% of non-Hispanic white males in state and federal prison were ages 18 to 24, compared to 13% of non-Hispanic black males and 12% of Hispanic males.
" Sixteen percent of while male prisoners were age 55 or older, compared to 10% of black male and 8% of Hispanic male prisoners.
" Eight percent each of white and black female prisoners in 2015 were age 55 or older, compared to 5% of Hispanic female prisoners.
"At year-end 2016, the jail incarceration rate was 217 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, which was similar to the rate of 215 per 100,000 at year-end 2015 (table 2). The incarceration rate for adults age 18 or older was 280 per 100,000 U.S. residents age 18 or older at year-end 2016. Males (377 per 100,000 male U.S. residents) were incarcerated at a rate six times that of females (62 per 100,000 female U.S. residents).
"The United States had an estimated 1,505,400 prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal correctional authorities as of December 31, 2016 (year-end). This was a decline of 21,200 prisoners (down 1%) from year-end 2015. State prisons held 13,900 fewer prisoners in 2016 than in 2015, while the federal prison population decreased by 7,300 (down almost 4%). For sentenced prisoners, the imprisonment rates at year-end 2016 were the lowest since 1997, with 450 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents of all ages and 582 per 100,000 U.S. residents age 18 or older (figure 1).
"After peaking at 3,210 offenders per 100,000 U.S. residents age 18 or older in 2007, the correctional supervision rate trended downward, falling to a low of 2,640 per 100,000 by year-end 2016 (table 4). The percentage of adults supervised by U.S. correctional system was lower in 2016 than at any time since 1993 (2,550 per 100,000) (not shown). Both the change in the correctional population and change in the U.S population had an impact on the rate.
"Forty-seven percent (81,900) of sentenced federal prisoners on September 30, 2016 (the most recent date for which federal offense data are available) were serving time for a drug offense (table 14; table 15).
"More than a third (38% or 65,900 prisoners) of federal prisoners were imprisoned for a public order offense, including 17% (28,800 federal prisoners) for a weapons offense and 8% (13,300) for an adjudicated immigration offense.
US jails held, as confined inmates, 621,149 people in 2000; 767,434 people in 2009; 748,728 people in 2010; 735,601 people in 2011; 744,524 people in 2012; 731,208 people in 2013; 744,592 people in 2014; 727,400 people in 2015; and 740,700 people in 2016.
The above are mid-year counts of inmates confined by local jails on the last weekday of June for each year. Counts were estimated from the Annual Survey of Jails.
"Non-Hispanic blacks (599 per 100,000 black U.S. residents) had the highest jail incarceration rate at year-end 2016, followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (359 per 100,000 AIAN residents). Non-Hispanic whites (171 per 100,000 white residents) and Hispanics (185 per 100,000 Hispanic residents) were incarcerated at a similar rate at year-end 2016. Among non-Hispanics in 2016, blacks were incarcerated in jail at a rate 3.5 times that of whites, down from 5.6 times the rate in 2000.