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Delaware has an incarceration rate of 539 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 almost any democratic country on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Delaware and why.

5,400 people from Delaware are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 7,000 Delaware residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

Using 2020 census data, we looked at where people in Delaware prisons come from. We found mass incarceration harms all corners of the state.

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 Delaware from 1978 to 2019 Also see these Delaware graphs:

Today, Delaware’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 Delaware. The incarceration rate of 608 per 100,000 for the United States and 539 for Delaware is 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.

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 Delaware

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

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

Pie chart showing that 23,000 Delaware 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 Delaware's criminal legal system:

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