The number of inmates in local jails across the nation reached a record 490,442 last year, more than double the population a decade earlier, the Justice Department said Sunday.
The rising number of drug offenders was the biggest reason for the increase, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which estimated that more than 105,800 of the 1993 jail inmates were charged or convicted of drug crimes.
Most jail inmates last year were black or Hispanic, and black people were nine times more likely than people of other races to be held in a local jail, the report said.
The study covered the 3,304 jails operated by counties or municipalities across the country. Local jails house one-third of the almost 1.5 million people incarcerated in the United States; the rest are in state or federal prisons.
Five states held just under half of all jail inmates: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia. But Louisiana had the highest jail incarceration rate at 377 per 100,000 population.
There were 223,551 people in jail in 1983, or 96 per 100,000 U.S. residents. The 490,442 people in jail on June 30, 1994, meant an incarceration rate of 188 per 100,000 population, the report said.
Jails throughout the country cost about $9.6 billion during the year ending June 30, 1993. Excluding capital spending, it cost an average $14,667 to keep each inmate in jail for a year.
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