Tennessee has an incarceration rate of 838 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 Tennessee and why.
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Tennesee is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 117,000 different people are booked into local jails in Tennessee.
More than third of the people held in jails in Tennessee are held for federal or state agencies, primarily the state prison system. To avoid counting them twice, this population is not included in the yellow jails line. For annual counts of people in jails held for federal or state authorizes in Tennessee, see our table "Jail and prison incarcerated populations by state over time."
Also see these Tennessee graphs:
This graph excludes people held for state or federal authorities from the total count of people held in Tennessee jails. Because a significant proportion (33%) of the population in Tennessee's jails is held for the state prison system and the U.S. Marshals Service, this graph likely overstates the convicted population and understates the pre-trial population.
See also our detailed graphs about Whites and Blacks in Tennessee prisons and jails.
Prisons and jails in Tennessee are increasingly shifting the cost of incarceration to people behind bars and their families, hiding the true economic costs of mass incarceration:
We gave Tennessee a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
For more detail, see our report States of Emergency. Or check out these other resources: