The 3 most crowded state prison systems in America

By Luke Whyte

The overcrowding of America's jails and prisons is a nationwide issue that has been building in scope for over a quarter century.

Corrections1 has created this report in an effort to zero in on the heart of the problem. Charted below are the three most overcrowded state prison systems in the country. The figures are based on recent reports released by state DOCs across the country and include all facilities from Maximum security to Work Camps.

The big three:

The raw numbers:

Click on the states on the map or scroll down to the paragraphs below to see the raw data on each system.
If you are having trouble viewing the map click here.

#1 - Alabama: According to the August, 2009 'Monthly Statistical Report' released by the Alabama Department of Corrections, the state is currently incarcerating 25,593 inmates, while the intended capacity of all of its facilities combined only amounts to 13,403 inmates. By these numbers, Alabama's prisons are 190.9% occupied, making it the most overcrowded state prison system in the country.

#2 - California: Alabama may be the most crowded system per total intended capacity, but California has far more inmates in total than all states but Texas. According to a October 14th, 2009 California Department of Rehabilitation "Weekly Report of Population", the state currently incarcerates 155,041 inmates, while the systemwide intended capacity of all its facilities is only 81,156. This makes California's prisons 184.2% occupied, the second most overcrowded state prison system in the country.

#3 - Massachusettes: The competition for third place is much more fierce. However, inching just ahead of a several other states is Massachusettes, with 11,327 total inmates and an intended capacity of just 7,979 - according to the "Quarterly Report on the Status of Prison Overcrowding" released on June 29th, 2009. Thus, Massachusettes' prisons are 142% occupied, the third most overcrowded system in the country.

In order to gain a sense of scale, we've compiled these numbers in raw form below and added in the number of systemwide correctional officers1, too:

For more information contact the editor.


1 Officer data is based of the most recent reports available. For Alabama - August, 2009; California - December, 2008; Massachusettes - Dec. 2007

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