Utah has an incarceration rate of 435 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 Utah and why.
Jump to COVID-19 data.
14,000 people from Utah are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Utah is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 32,000 different people are booked into local jails in Utah.
Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years
Also see these Utah graphs:
This graph excludes people held for state or federal authorities from the total count of people held in Utah jails. Because a significant proportion (30%) of the population in Utah's jails is held for the other authorities, this graph likely overstates the convicted population and understates the pre-trial population.
Today, Utah’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,
and American Indians/Native Americans
in Utah prisons and jails.
Utah's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
Data on COVID-19 in Utah jails and prisons
We gave Utah a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
- 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 Utah, failed to utilize this simple tool of population reduction.
- Utah failed to utilize one of the most obvious, and easiest, tools for reducing the prison population — stopping prison admissions for technical violations of probation and parole (which are not crimes).
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
- Prisons are COVID-19 hotspots, but as of mid-May 2021, only 7% of people in Utah prisons had gotten a vaccine
- How crowded are Utah prisons, as of December 2020?
- How many COVID-19 cases in Utah communities can be linked to outbreaks in correctional facilities? (data from our report Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread)
- As of August 2020, Utah prisons were not even requiring staff to wear masks at work
- We're tracking Utah's medical copay policies in prisons during the pandemic
- State prison and jail population data for May, August, September, December 2020, and February, June, October 2021 (data availability varies by state)
Our other articles about Utah