Federal, District of Columbia, and States' Future Prison and Correctional Institution Populations and Capacities

GGD-84-56: Published: Feb 27, 1984. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO obtained information on the prison and correctional institution populations and capacities of the Federal prison system, the District of Columbia, and the 50 States for the period 1983 through 1990; compared their projections of future populations with their estimates of future correctional institution capacities; and examined the methods and models used by the Bureau of Prisons and District in their prison population projections.

In 1983, the Federal prison system had an average daily inmate population of 29,718, and it projects an increase of 18.4 percent by 1988. Currently, the Federal prison system's inmate population exceeds its rated capacity to house inmates by 24 percent; this figure is projected to reach 40 percent by 1990. In the District of Columbia, the average daily 1983 inmate population exceeded the rated institutional capacity by 11.4 percent, and it is projected that overcrowding rates will remain constant at 10.4 percent from 1987 through 1990. In 1983 State prisons were holding 17.8 percent over their rated capacity. States projected inmate population growth of 34.9 percent and an overcrowding rate of 25.8 percent by 1990. Estimates of the capital costs that would be necessary to adequately increase the rated inmate capacities of the correctional facilities by 1988 would be $310 million for the Federal prison system and $59.9 million for the District of Columbia, while it has been estimated that $4.7 billion would be needed to meet State needs by 1990.

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