Texas has an incarceration rate of 840 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 Texas and why.
Jump to COVID-19 data.
251,000 people from Texas are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Texas is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 505,000 different people are booked into local jails in Texas.
Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years
Also see these Texas graphs:
Today, Texas’s incarceration rates stand out internationally
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
See also our detailed graphs about Whites
in Texas prisons and jails.
Texas's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
Data on COVID-19 in Texas jails and prisons
We gave Texas a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
- Texas is one of 13 states that did not explicitly mention incarcerated people in their vaccination rollout plan, and is one of 15 prison systems that has not yet vaccinated more than 60% of the incarcerated population.
- Texas 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:
- Our Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic page tracks criminal justice policy responses to the coronavirus all 50 states
- Texas was one of three states that saw more than 500 people die in its prisons in the first year of the COVID pandemic.
- State prison and jail population data for May, August, September, December 2020, and February, June, October 2021 (data availability varies by state)
- Prisons are COVID-19 hotspots, but as of mid-May 2021, only 49% of people in Texas prisons had gotten a vaccine
- As of late April 2021, only 33% of corrections staff in Texas prisons had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine
- Texas is one of only a handful of states that never released details about its plan to vaccinate incarcerated people
- Texas prisons were still over 95% capacity in December 2020, several months into the pandemic
- How many COVID-19 cases in Texas communities can be linked to outbreaks in correctional facilities? (data from our report Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread)
- We're tracking Texas's medical copay policies in prisons during the pandemic
Our other articles about Texas
Protecting family contact in Texas prisons and jails
Travis County, Texas: A case study on video visitation
Victory: In-person visits return to jails in Travis County, Texas!
In-person family visits will return to Austin, Texas
Dallas County approves video visitation contract
Dallas County rejects Securus video visitation contract
Prison-based gerrymandering in Texas
Texas counties favor fairness and common sense over prison gerrymandering
Avoiding prison gerrymandering is often a matter of common sense: Texas and Louisiana research update
Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Texas