Alabama has an incarceration rate of 938 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 Alabama and why.
Jump to COVID-19 data.
46,000 people from Alabama are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Alabama is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 90,000 different people are booked into local jails in Alabama.
Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years
Also see these Alabama graphs:
Today, Alabama’s incarceration rates stand out internationally
In 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
See also our detailed graphs about Whites
in Alabama prisons and jails.
Alabama's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
Data on COVID-19 in Alabama jails and prisons
We gave Alabama a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
- Alabama is the only state for which we were unable to find evidence of the Department of Correction providing free masks to incarcerated people.
- Alabama released fewer people on parole in 2020 than they had in 2019, and approved a smaller percent of parole applications.
For more detail, see our report States of Emergency. Or check out these other resources:
- Our Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic page tracks criminal justice policy responses to the coronavirus in all 50 states
- Prisons are COVID-19 hotspots, but as of mid-May 2021, only 20% of people in Alabama prisons had gotten a vaccine
- As of late April 2021, only 13% of corrections staff in Alabama prisons had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine
- Alabama released fewer people on parole in 2020 than in 2019
- Alabama prisons were still over 100% capacity in December 2020, several months into the pandemic
- How many COVID-19 cases in Alabama communities can be linked to outbreaks in correctional facilities? (data from our report Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread)
- As of August 2020, Alabama prisons were not even requiring staff to wear masks at work
- Alabama did the right thing and suspended all medical copays in prisons at the beginning of the pandemic. The state should make this change permanent
- State prison and jail population data for May, August, September, December 2020, and February, June, October 2021 (data availability varies by state)
Our other articles about Alabama
Prison and jail phone justice in Alabama