Category: Crazy Fact of the Day

Jun 23 2014

Snippet from History #6: U.S. Prisoners in 1904

Regular readers are aware that I am a data geek. A few years ago, at a library used book sale, I picked up an old report about U.S. prisoners in 1904. I’ve used it only a couple of times since I bought it but I thought that some of you might be interested in this information. These numbers include both the prison and jail populations. In addition, these are numbers of prisoners who were committed during the 12 months of 1904.  Anything surprising to you in these numbers?

Prisoners in 1904

Source:  Prisoners and Juvenile Delinquents in Institutions 1904 (Bureau of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, 1907)

1. Number and ratio of prisoners committed during 1904, classified by sex




Number per 100,000 of pop


Number per 100,000 of pop

TOTAL Number

Number per 100,000

Continental U.S.







During 1904, a total of 149,691 prisoners were committed on term sentences and the table below shows that 23,698 of these were “Negro.” On June 30, 1904, there were 81,772 prisoners locked up in the U.S. (We can assume that this represents the average number on any given day).

Comparatively in 2012, there were 2,228,400 prisoners in state, federal prisons and local jails in the U.S. and the incarceration rate was 710 per 100,000 people as opposed to 184.1 per 100,000 in 1904.

[I have included incarceration RATES to pre-empt those who will INEVITABLY complain about using aggregate numbers. So please save those complaints. Through the rates, you can now make apple to apple comparisons accounting for population growth.]

2. Distribution of prisoners committed during 1904, by sex, color, race and nativity

TOTAL Male Female
Total Number % Total Number % Total Number %
Aggregate 149,691 100 136,365 100 13,326 100
White 125,093 83.6 114,670 84.1 10,423 78.2
Colored 24,598 16.4 21,695 15.9 2,903 21.8
Negro** 23,698 15.8 20,865 15.3 2,833 21.3

** I’ve broken out Negro which is a subset of colored

Of the male prisoners shown in Table 2, 20,865 or 15.3 percent were Negro and of the female prisoners 2,833, or 21.3 percent were Negro. So what’s interesting to note is that in 1904 black women were disproportionately imprisoned compared to their male counterparts.


Nov 23 2013

Crazy PIC Fact(s) of the Day: 11/23/13 Edition

I found this short video titled “US Prison System by the Numbers.” It’s informative and a good short primer on the scope of the PIC in the U.S. It was created by Patrick Kipper.

Aug 20 2013

The Drug War: Still Racist and Failed #23 (Crazy PIC Facts Edition)

by Nicolas Lampert

by Nicolas Lampert

Federal prisons, by the numbers:

—Number of federal prison inmates: 219,000 (about 14% of the total prison/jail population)

—Number of inmates in federal prisons for drug offenses, 1980: 4,700

—Number of inmates in federal prisons for drug offenses, 2010: 97,500

—Number of federal convictions for drug offenses each year: 25,000

—Number of federal drug convictions each year for lower-level drug offenses such as street dealing or delivering: 11,250

—Percentage of federal inmates convicted of drug offenses who are African-American: 30 percent

—Percentage of federal inmates convicted of drug offenses who are Hispanic: 40 percent

– The single largest driver in the increase in the federal prison population since 1998 is longer sentences for drug offenders.

– The average inmate in minimum-security federal prison costs $21,000 each year. The average inmate in maximum-security federal prisons costs $33,000 each year.

– Federal prison costs are expected to rise to 30 percent of the Department of Justice’s budget by 2020 .

Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, The Sentencing Project, and Wonkblog

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Apr 12 2013

Crazy PIC Fact of the Day


More here.

Apr 05 2013

Crazy PIC Fact of the Day


Mar 01 2013

7 Things You Should Know About the Prison Industrial Complex by Prison Culturefeed…

It seems to me that Buzzfeed should not be the only one to publish lists of things. So today, welcome to Prison Culturefeed’s list of 7 things you should know about the prison industrial complex.

1. The U.S. locks up more people than any other country in the world.

2. We especially like to lock up black people.

3. The “drug war” is costly and has helped to accelerate the growth of the prison industrial complex.

Read more »

Feb 08 2013

Crazy PIC Fact of the Day…

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) 2012 report, Old Behind Bars, found that, between 2007 and 2010, the number of sentenced prisoners aged 65 or older grew 94 times faster than the total sentenced prisoner population during that same period.

I’ve written quite a bit about aging in prison on this blog. Here’s one example that includes some striking photographs by Tim Gruber.

Oct 03 2012

Crazy PIC Fact of the Day: Women in Prison

According to a new fact sheet (PDF) released by the Sentencing Project last week, the number of women in prison increased by 646% between 1980 and 2010, rising from 15,118 to 112,797. Including women in local jails, more than 205,000 women are now incarcerated.

The chart below depicts the rise in number of women prisoners from 1994 to 2008. Still stunning to see…

Aug 04 2012

Crazy Prison Industrial Complex Fact of the Day: 8/4/12

This needs no additional commentary…

May 17 2012

Crazy Prison Industrial Complex Fact of the Day: 5/17/12

10.4 percent of the African-American male population ages 25 to 29 is incarcerated. More than 3 million Black households have a close relative currently or previously on parole or probation.

(Source: Reed, 2012)