New Jersey jailed a total of 22,452 people in its state prisons in 2013 at a cost of $1.51 billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
About 4.8 percent of the state budget’s general fund is devoted to jails and prisons. The cost and large number notwithstanding, that was the lowest number of prisoners being held in New Jersey since 1990.
New Jersey’s rate of 252 people incarcerated per 100,000 population is among the lowest in the country, joining Vermont, Utah, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and North Dakota at the bottom of the list.
The rest of the country, however, is experiencing historic highs in the rates of incarceration. Louisiana, which has the highest percentage of prisoners in its jails with 847 per 100,000 spends 8.7 percent of its general fund on prisons. Texas, which also has among the highest rates of incarceration, had 160,295 prisoners in 2013, or 602 people per 100,000. That’s the highest number of prisoners of any state in the country. Texas spent $3.1 billion on its jails or 7.3 percent of its state’s general fund.
To see how the country has changed in terms of prison populations, see the interactive graphic at the CBPP.