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Washington, D.C. has an incarceration rate of 816 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities).

The D.C. criminal justice system is especially unique—after the Lorton Prison Complex was closed down in 2001, the District's prison population has been integrated into the federal Bureau of Prisons system. The District of Columbia's Department of Corrections currently operates two facilities that serve functions similar to local jails. While we don't (yet) have a good annual data source for prison growth after 2001, the data that does exist indicates that District of Columbia has the highest incarceration rate in the U.S., and therefore the world.

5,000 people from the District of Columbia are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 8,300 of the District of Columbia residents are locked up in federal prisons, local jails and youth facilities

Additionally, the number of people impacted by local jails in Washington, D.C. is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 12,000 different people are booked into local jails in Washington, D.C.

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 the District of Columbia from 1978 to 2019 Also see these District of Columbia graphs:

People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails

2021 graph showing incarceration rates per 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic groups in D.C.

racial and ethnic disparities between the prison/jail and general population in DC as of 2021

Today, D.C.’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 Washington, D.C.. The incarceration rate of 608 per 100,000 for the United States and 816 for D.Cis much higher than any of the founding NATO members 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.

D.C.'s criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails

Pie chart showing that 18,000 of the District of Columbia residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole See detailed data on incarceration and supervision numbers and rates by state.

Reports and briefings about the District of Columbia's criminal legal system:

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