[JURIST] The population of individuals in US prisons rose by 2.7 percent in 2005, according to an annual report [DOJ materials] released Wednesday by the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics [official website]. The report indicates that over 7 million people were either in jail, on probation, or on parole [press release] by the end of last year, with 2.2 million of them in prison. The Justice Department statistics also show that the percentage of female prisoners is rising - the number of female inmates rose 2.6 percent in 2005 with the male population only increasing by 1.9 percent. Sentencing Project [advocacy website], an advocacy group that promotes criminal justice reform, has blamed the increase in women prisoners on harsh sentences handed down for nonviolent drug offenses.
The report also showed racial disparities among prisoners that are similar among men and women inmates. Among male prisoners ages 25-29, 8.1 percent of black men are in prison, while 2.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.1 percent of white men are incarcerated. South Dakota accounted for the highest increase in inmate population with a rise of 11 percent, followed by Montana with 10.4 percent, and Kentucky with 7.9 percent. Georgia's prison population dropped the most with a decrease of 4.6 percent, followed by Maryland with a 2.4 percent drop, and Louisiana with a 2.3 percent decrease. AP has more.