Virginia has an incarceration rate of 749 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 Virginia and why.
69,000 people from Virginia are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Virginia is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 111,000 different people are booked into local jails in Virginia.
Today, Virginia’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 Virginia prisons and jails.
Virginia's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
Virginia failed to utilize one of the most obvious, and easiest, tools for reducing the prison population — stopping prison admissions for noncriminal violations of probation and parole. (In a separate briefing, we found that Virginia returned as many people to prison for noncriminal violations in 2020 as it did in 2019.)