OKLAHOMA CITY – The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released its annual inmate census report detailing federal/state inmate populations and incarceration rates for 2016.
The report by BJS shows Oklahoma was second in the nation in overall incarceration rates for 2016 – with 673 people incarcerated per 100,000 residents. Louisiana, with 760 inmates per 100,000 residents, led the country – the national average was 397 per 100,000.
In 2016, Oklahoma continued to lead the nation in female incarceration – a dubious distinction the state has owned for more than 25 years.
“Unfortunately, none of this is a surprise,” said Joe M. Allbaugh, ODOC Director. “In fact, we expect Oklahoma’s incarceration rate to eventually be the country’s highest. This is due to the limited results of criminal justice reform in our state – and Louisiana’s successful reform efforts that will reduce how many people that state sends to prison.”
However, ODOC officials believe the BJS report may be misleading.
It claims Oklahoma had one of the largest declines in prison population of any state from 2015 to 2016, stating there were 1,700 fewer inmates in ODOC’s custody when comparing year ends (2015 = 28,114, 2016 = 26,486).
While the report accurately reflects the state’s prison population at year end, it does not account for inmates sentenced to prison and awaiting transfer to an ODOC facility.
The chart below reflects ODOC’s inmate count for the last working day of each calendar year. Using this data, prisoners decreased 545 from December 2015 to 2016 and 197 from December 2016 to 2017.
Those changes are far less dramatic than those the BJS reports – and are in fact negligible when one considers that there were 62,355 inmates and offenders in ODOC’s system and waiting to come in Friday morning
When we add in female inmates awaiting ODOC reception, the number has actually increased since year-end 2015.