Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | incarceration rate | Oregon

Rates of Incarceration in Oregon

By    |   Thursday, 07 January 2016 02:09 AM

Oregon could be called the benchmark state in the nation when it comes to the incarceration rate within its borders, as 2013 numbers nearly mirror the national average. According to the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), Oregon imprisoned 385 individuals per 100,000 residents in its state prison system in 2013. That number is just slightly below the national average, 395 prisoners per 100,000 Americans. That equates to about 3 percent below the national average for Oregon.

The NIC reported that Oregon had 15,362 state prison inmates in 2013 and those prisoners were overseen by the Oregon Department of Corrections, which had a $1.4 billion budget and 4,566 employees.

Oregon also seems to be about average when comparing its incarceration rate with bordering states, as NIC data showed Washington at 256 and California at 353, but Idaho imprisoned an average of 466 and Nevada held 460.

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Those numbers, however, only reflect state prisons. The federal government's Bureau of Justice Statistics report titled "Correctional Populations in the United States" factored in all types of incarceration in its report and gave Oregon an incarceration rate of 740. Those numbers increased from the NIC report because of local jail inmates and federal prisons.

In addition to incarceration, Oregon posted a community supervision rate of 1,980 per 100,000 residents. Those statewide numbers that factor in county and city jails change Oregon's rank in terms of incarceration rate and put the state well below the national average, which was reported to be a rate of 910. That still put Oregon well ahead of Washington (550) but moved it behind California (750). Nevada (930) and Idaho (860) once again imprisoned more citizens than Oregon when factoring in all types of incarceration.

Despite an incarceration rate that can be described as low, the state's former governor in 2013 embarked upon a plan to lower the rate even more, citing increased costs of housing prisoners. According to a Willamette Week article from March 2013, Gov. John Kitzhaber said that prison spending was hurting education spending, so he and his commission on public safety proposed changing sentencing laws to stop what he called "relentless growth."

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Citing the Bureau of Justice Statistics and Oregon Commission on Public Safety, the Willamette Weekly story showed that in 1990, Oregon's incarceration rate was 223 per 100,000 and the national rate was 297. While the federal rate climbed consistently for more than decade, Oregon's rate actually dipped from 1991 to 1993. Even in 2000, when the state was in a steady uptick with its rate, Oregon's incarceration rate of 316 was starkly below the national rate of 478. By 2009, Oregon was catching up, with a rate of 373 compared with a federal number of 502.

Part of Oregon's success in keeping a low rate, the story reported, is that Oregon had the second-lowest incarceration rate for drug offenders in the country in 2010.

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Oregon could be called the benchmark state in the nation when it comes to the incarceration rate within its borders, as 2013 numbers nearly mirror the national average.
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Thursday, 07 January 2016 02:09 AM
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