According to a report released last week, the local jail inmate population in the United States declined for the second straight year. The annual report, released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, analyzes patterns of growth and decline in jail populations and found that the jail population declined by 2.4 percent during the 12-month period studied. Unlike prisons, jails are mainly operated by local law enforcement agencies and typically hold inmates while they await court action or serve a sentence of one year or less.

Los Angeles County led the nation with the largest decline—a drop of over 3,000 inmates—while the Phoenix, Houston, Fresno, and Philadelphia areas each reported declines of over 1,000. Other highlights from the report include the following:

  • Between midyear 2009 and midyear 2010, the confined inmate population in county and city jails (748,728) declined by 2.4% (18,706 inmates).
  • On June 30, 2010, adults represented 99% of all jail inmates. Males accounted for 87.7%, and females accounted for 12.3%.

The estimated rated capacity for all jail jurisdictions at midyear 2010 reached 866,974 beds, an increase of 2.0% (17,079 beds) from midyear 2009.