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In 2008, approximately one in every 31 adults (7.3 million) in the United States was either behind bars or being monitored (probation and parole). Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP), conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 86,927 youths were held in juvenile facilities.

As of 2009, the three states with the lowest ratios of imprisoned people per 100,000 population are Maine (150 per 100,000), Minnesota (189 per 100,000), and New Hampshire (206 per 100,000).

The BOP also houses adult felons convicted of violating District of Columbia laws due to the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997.

As of 2004, state prisons proportionately house more violent felons, so state prisons in general gained a more negative reputation compared to federal prisons. has experienced a surge in its prison population, quadrupling since 1980, partially as a result of mandatory sentencing that came about during the "War on Drugs." As of the 2007.

41% percent of convicted and unconvicted jail inmates in 2002 had a current or prior violent offense; 46% were nonviolent recidivists.

From 2000 to 2008, the state prison population increased by 159,200 prisoners, and violent offenders accounted for 60% of this increase.

In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges.

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Persons who violate state laws and/or territorial laws generally are placed in state or territorial prisons, while those who violate United States federal law are generally placed in federal prisons operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), an agency of the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ).

Incarceration in the United States is one of the main forms of punishment and rehabilitation for the commission of felony and other offenses. In 2014, the total number of persons in the adult correctional systems had fallen to 6,851,000 persons, approximately 52,200 fewer offenders than at the year end of 2013 as reported by the BJS.

The United States has the largest prison population in the world, According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 – about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the U. About 1 in 36 adults (or 2.8% of adults in the US) was under some form of correctional supervision – the lowest rate since 1996.

The prison population was increased primarily by public policy changes causing more prison sentences and lengthening time served, e.g.

through mandatory minimum sentencing, "three strikes" laws, and reductions in the availability of parole or early release.

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