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In Study Of New Prisoners, 77% Had Five Or More Previous Arrests

Among persons admitted to state prisons in 2014 across 34 states, 77% had five or more prior arrests in their criminal history, including the arrest that resulted in their prison sentence. A similar proportion (76%) of persons admitted to state prison in 29 states in 2009 had five or more prior arrests, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics says in a new report. “It is noteworthy that, among persons entering prison, over three-quarters had five or more prior arrests,” said BJS director Alex Piquero. The 369,200 persons admitted to state prisons in 2014 had an estimated 4.2 million prior arrests in their criminal histories. In both 2009 and 2014, persons admitted to state prison had a median of nine prior arrests in their criminal histories.


About 1 in 10 persons admitted in 2014 at 24 or younger had at least one prior arrest outside of the state where they were admitted, and about 4 in 10 persons admitted at age 40 or older had at least one such arrest. More than 1 in 4 persons admitted to state prison in in 2014 had been sentenced for a violent offense. In both the 2009 and 2014 cohorts, about 7 in 10 persons entering prison had at least one prior arrest for a drug offense. About half of persons admitted in 2014 were released by the end of 2015. Among the released inmates, over half (59%) were arrested at least once within 2 years, including 16% for a violent offense. Forty-two percent were arrested for a public order offense within 2 years of release, making it the most common arrest offense for the 2014 admission cohort. The findings are based on BJS’s first examination of prison records from the National Corrections Reporting Program in conjunction with criminal history data to analyze characteristics and arrest histories of persons admitted to state prison.

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