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Rhode Island has an incarceration rate of 361 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 many wealthy democracies do. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Rhode Island and why.

Are you looking for information on what jails and prisons in Rhode Island are doing to stop COVID-19? See our regularly-updated coronavirus response page.

3,600 people from Rhode Island are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 3,600 Rhode Island residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

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 Rhode Island from 1978 to 2015 Also see these Rhode Island graphs:

Today, Rhode Island’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 Rhode Island. The incarceration rate of 698 per 100,000 for the United States and 361 for Rhode Island is much higher than any of the founding NATO membersIn 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 Rhode Island

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

See also our detailed graphs about Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks in Rhode Island prisons.

Rhode Island's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons

Pie chart showing that 26,000 Rhode Island residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole

Our other articles about Rhode Island

Prison-based gerrymandering in Rhode Island

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