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Prison Population Growth Hits Seven-Year Low

AMERICA'S state and federal prison populations' growth during the year was the slowest in seven years, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.The agency said prisons in the United States gained 30,149 inmates from January through June - a 4 percent expansion to a record total of 804,524 inmates. But the bureau said the six-month increase was below a record 47,000 increase in prisoners recorded during the first half of 1989. "This year's increase was the equivalent of about 1,160 more inmates every week, compared with 1,642 per week during the first half of 1990 and more than 1,800 additional prisoners per week during the first half of 1989," said bureau director Steven Dillingham. The 12-month growth from June 1990 was 6.5 percent - an increase of just over 49,000 inmates, he said. "This is the lowest annual percentage increase since 1984," he added. During the first half of the year, the federal prison population grew 3.1 percent, compared with an average increase of 4 percent in state prison populations. The number of female inmates in state and federal prisons grew 4.5 percent, compared with a 3.9 percent increase for men. As of June 30, women accounted for 5.7 percent of all prisoners nationwide. Prison populations in the West increased 5.1 percent while those jailed in the Northeast grew 4.2 percent. Southern and Midwestern prisoner counts each grew by 3.5 percent. Four states posted double-digit gains: Rhode Island, 14.3 percent; New Hampshire, 11.6 percent; Nevada, 10.6 percent; and Colorado, 10 percent. Eight states had prisoner growth of at least 10 percent for the year ending June 30. Five states recorded declines during the past year. California was recorded as having 101,995 prisoners on June 30, making it the the first state to exceed the 100,000 inmate level.

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