HELP US GET YOU THE DATA YOU NEED The Prison Policy Initiative specializes in producing the information that you need to support campaigns for justice in your state. Can you help us expand this work?

Thank you,
—Peter Wagner, Executive Director

Maryland profile    Tweet this

Charts & graphs
The cost of incarceration
Reports & briefings
Other resources
Prison gerrymandering

Maryland has an incarceration rate of 531 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 democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Maryland and why.

32,000 people from Maryland are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 36,000 Maryland 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 Maryland is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 83,000 different people are booked into local jails in Maryland.

Using 2020 census data, we looked at where people in Maryland prisons come from. We found they come from all corners of the state, but disproportionately from Baltimore and some Eastern Shore communities.

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 Maryland from 1978 to 2015 Also see these Maryland graphs:

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

Today, Maryland’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 Maryland. The incarceration rate of 664 per 100,000 for the United States and 531 for Maryland 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 Maryland

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

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

Pie chart showing that 117,000 Maryland residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole

The high cost of being incarcerated in Maryland

Prisons and jails in Maryland 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 Maryland

Other resources

Prison-based gerrymandering in Maryland

Data on COVID-19 in Maryland jails and prisons

We gave Maryland a "D-" grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:

  • Maryland was one of only 8 states that failed to reduce their prison population by more than 10% during the pandemic.
  • One of the easiest ways to reduce prison populations — especially during a pandemic — is to suspend admissions to prisons for technical violations of probation and parole (which are not crimes). Yet most states, including Maryland, failed to utilize this simple tool of population reduction.

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

Stay Informed

Get the latest updates:

And our other newsletters:

Stay Informed

Get the latest updates:

Tweet this page Donate Now hiring:
Digital Communications Strategist