A multiyear decline in the overall U.S. prison population continued through the first half of 2021, according to a Vera Institute of Justice report published June 7.
The total incarcerated population stands at just under 1.77 million currently, with nearly 1.2 million in prisons and more than 573,000 in jails.
A significant drop in the total prison and jail population took place from 2019 (2.1 million) to midyear 2020 (1.8 million).
Local municipalities and agencies manage jails, which typically house people awaiting trial or with shorter sentences, while states or the Federal Bureau of Prisons run prisons, which usually house people charged with more serious crimes and facing longer sentences. For additional information explaining the differences, go here.
While the prison population continued to decline – dropping 115,600 from midyear 2020 to spring 2021 – the jail population reversed course and increased 73,800, resulting in a net decline of 41,400 for the total incarcerated population.
Of the states with full data available, Kentucky had the highest incarceration rate, followed by Texas and Florida.
Massachusetts had the highest percentage rate decrease (29%) during this time period, followed by Connecticut (27%) and Colorado, New York and Vermont (all at 23%).
“Generally, states that started 2020 with higher incarceration rates made fewer efforts to reduce incarceration through spring 2021,” the report said. “This pattern speaks to the political, economic and social entrenchment of mass incarceration.”