Characteristics of Jail Inmates

            The Bureau of Justice Statistics under the US Department of Justice produces compilations of relevant statistics regarding criminal offenders. Among the information which is placed in the website is that of the characteristics of jail inmates for the year 2002.

            In the said report, 12 % of the total population for local jail inmates is comprised of women. The average age of the inmates are relatively older where 38 % are classified to be 35 years old and older. Likewise, there is a greater proportion of the population who belongs to the ethnic minorities, which is 60 %. With a further breakdown, it is seen that the jail inmates is comprised of 40 % black, 19% Hispanic, 3% mixed ethnicity, 1% Asian, and 1% American Indian.

As for their conviction offense, 50 % are convicted of either a violent or drug-related crimes. Status of conviction also vary from those with who are found guilty of a new offense (37 %), previous offenses after their parole or probation has been canceled (18 %), previous charges but still has pending trials for new offense (16 %), and not convicted (28 %).

            Unfortunately, it can be seen that inmates have the tendency to commit crimes and be arrested when they are on probation, conditional release, or pretrial release (53 %). Slightly lower than the half of the inmates (40 %) had a previous violent offense that only shows the tendency for released prisoners to be inmates once more. A significant amount of criminal offenders who have been arrested (50%) are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or under the influence of such (75%).

The influence of families may also affect the tendency of inmates to engage in criminal offense as there are those who lived with family members and guardians who abused alcohol or drugs (31%) and there are also those who lived with a kin who has been imprisoned (46 %). The absence of a family for several inmates (12%) has also affected them as they are made to live in foster homes or institutions.

The data presented in this particular report concentrated and emphasized the characteristics which describes the larger population and does not take into consideration the entire composition. By losing some of the statistics regarding the other kinds of offenders or age groups, there is the great tendency for some data to be lost, which are critical in understanding the whole. The holistic approach to analyzing other characteristics is lost because the other parts of the pie have not been taken into consideration.

The information contained in the report is important for me in understanding the composition of the prisons because it ensures that policies made are guided according to the characteristic of the inmates. It also helps in understanding the trends and future patterns based on their characteristics.

Link used for this report: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm