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Lifetime Likelihood of Going to State or Federal Prison

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 1997
16 pages
T P Bonczar; A J Beck
Publication Series
This report presents data and information on the chances of going to State or Federal prison at some time during the rest of life by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin.
Life table techniques were used to incorporate the effects of mortality and incarceration into a single statistical model. In generating estimates of the lifetime chances of going to prison, the model assumes a constant set of age-specific mortality and incarceration rates. Since the computations involve two forms of exit from an initial cohort, they represent an application of what is known to demographers as double-decrement life table techniques. If recent incarceration rates remain unchanged, an estimated 1 of every 20 persons (5.1 percent) will serve time in a prison during their lifetime. Men are over eight times more likely than women to be incarcerated in prison at least once during their life. Among men, blacks (28.5 percent) are about twice as likely as Hispanics (16 percent) and six times more likely than whites (4.4 percent) to be admitted to prison during their life. Among women, 3.6 percent of blacks, 1.5 percent of Hispanics, and 0.5 percent of whites will enter prison at least once. The chance of going to prison for the first time declines with age. Nearly two-thirds of those admitted to prison for the first time will have been on probation, and one-third will have served a sentence to a local jail or juvenile facility. 11 tables and 2 figures

Date Created: December 24, 2009