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Alaska has an incarceration rate of 718 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than any democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Alaska and why.

Jump to COVID-19 data.


5,100 people from Alaska are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 5,100 Alaska residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities


Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years

graph showing the number of people in state prison and local jails per 100,000 residents in Alaska from 1978 to 2015 Also see these Alaska graphs:


Today, Alaska’s incarceration rates stand out internationally

graphic comparing the incarceration rates of the founding NATO members with the incarceration rates of the United States and the state of Alaska. The incarceration rate of 664 per 100,000 for the United States and 718 for Alaska is much higher than any of the founding NATO membersIn the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.


People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails

2010 graph showing incarceration rates per 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic groups in Alaska

racial and ethnic disparities between the prison/jail and general population in AK as of 2010

See also our detailed graphs about Whites, Blacks, and American Indians/Alaskan Natives in Alaska prisons.



Alaska's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons

Pie chart showing that 13,000 Alaska residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole


Data on COVID-19 in Alaska jails and prisons

We gave Alaska a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:

  • Alaska is one of only 8 states that have failed to reduce their prison population by more than 10% during the pandemic.
  • Alaska is one of only 8 state prison systems that did not offer free phone calls at any point during the pandemic.
  • As of December 2020, Arizona prisons were still almost full - by some estimates operating at 98% capacity.

For more detail, see our report States of Emergency. Or check out these other resources:


Our other articles about Alaska


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