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The cost of incarceration
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Indiana has an incarceration rate of 765 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 Indiana and why.

49,000 people from Indiana are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 47,000 Indiana residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Indiana is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 122,000 different people are booked into local jails in Indiana.

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 Indiana from 1978 to 2015 Also see these Indiana graphs:

Graph showing the number of people in Indiana jails who were convicted and the number who were unconvicted, for the years 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2005, and 2013.

Today, Indiana’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 Indiana. The incarceration rate of 664 per 100,000 for the United States and 765 for Indiana 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

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

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

See also our detailed graphs about Whites and Blacks in Indiana prisons and jails.

Indiana's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails

Pie chart showing that 162,000 Indiana residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole

The high cost of being incarcerated in Indiana

Prisons and jails in Indiana are increasingly shifting the cost of incarceration to people behind bars and their families, hiding the true economic costs of mass incarceration:

Our other articles about Indiana

Other resources

Data on COVID-19 in Indiana jails and prisons

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

  • Indiana is one of only 8 state prison systems that did not offer free phone calls at any point during the pandemic.
  • Indiana is one of 13 states that did not implement any policies to accelerate releases, promote medical parole or compassionate release, prevent incarceration for technical violations of probation and parole, or hasten releases for people incarcerated on minor offenses.

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

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