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U.S. Private Prisons Held More Than 100,000 Inmates As of 2020

Private prisons incarcerated 100,151 people in 2020, representing eight percent of the total state and federal prison population, says the Sentencing Project. Since 2000, the number of people in private prisons has increased 15 percent. Harsh anticrime policies starting in the 1980s fueled a rapid expansion in the nation’s prison population. The resulting burden on the public sector led to the modern emergence of for-profit prisons in many states and the federal system.

States show significant variation in the use of private prisons. At one end of the spectrum, Montana incarcerates half of its prison population in privately run facilities. In another 19 states, private prisons are not used at all. A total of 31 states use private corporations like GEO Group, Core Civic,1 LaSalle Corrections, and Management and Training Corporation to run some corrections facilities. Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Florida rely considerably on private prisons. In these states, between 13 percent and 45 percent of the prison population resides in a for-profit prison. The Sentencing Project provides a state-by-state breakdown.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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