U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2013
44 pages
Publication Series
In addition to reporting the number of admissions and releases from U.S. prisons (State and Federal) in 2012, this report examined trends in the types of State prison admissions and releases between 1991 and 2012.

Presents final counts on prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal correctional authorities on December 31, 2012, collected in the National Prisoner Statistics Program. The report expands on the statistics presented in the advance report in July 2013. It includes tables on the number of noncitizen inmates, inmates under age 18 in the custody of state or federal prisons, and prison capacity for each state and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It also focuses on trends in prison admissions and releases from 1991 to 2011 and the offense and demographic characteristics of yearend prison populations. The report examines data from California state prisons between 2010 and 2012, one year prior and during the implementation of the state's Public Safety Realignment policy. Please see BJS Errata for revisions to this report.

  • In 2012, the number of admissions to state and federal prison in the United States was 609,800 offenders, the lowest number since 1999. 
  • The number of releases from U.S. prisons in 2012 (637,400) exceeded that of admissions for the fourth consecutive year, contributing to the decline in the total U.S. prison population. 
  • In 2011, the majority of state prisoners in 2011 (53%) were serving time for violent offenses. 
  • New court commitments made up 82% of state admissions in 1978, 57% in 2000, and 71% in 2012. 
  • New court commitments to state prisons for drug offenders decreased 22% between 2006 and 2011, while parole violation admissions decreased 31%. 

Date Published: December 1, 2013