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Demography

, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 1795–1818 | Cite as

The Growth, Scope, and Spatial Distribution of People With Felony Records in the United States, 1948–2010

  • Sarah K. S. Shannon
  • Christopher Uggen
  • Jason Schnittker
  • Melissa Thompson
  • Sara Wakefield
  • Michael Massoglia
Article

Abstract

The steep rise in U.S. criminal punishment in recent decades has spurred scholarship on the collateral consequences of imprisonment for individuals, families, and communities. Several excellent studies have estimated the number of people who have been incarcerated and the collateral consequences they face, but far less is known about the size and scope of the total U.S. population with felony convictions beyond prison walls, including those who serve their sentences on probation or in jail. This article develops state-level estimates based on demographic life tables and extends previous national estimates of the number of people with felony convictions to 2010. We estimate that 3 % of the total U.S. adult population and 15 % of the African American adult male population has ever been to prison; people with felony convictions account for 8 % of all adults and 33 % of the African American adult male population. We discuss the far-reaching consequences of the spatial concentration and immense growth of these groups since 1980.

Keywords

Incarceration Felony conviction Punishment Inequality 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Rochelle Schmidt, Maria Kamenska, and Suzy McElrath for invaluable research assistance and support.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah K. S. Shannon
    • 1
  • Christopher Uggen
    • 2
  • Jason Schnittker
    • 3
  • Melissa Thompson
    • 4
  • Sara Wakefield
    • 5
  • Michael Massoglia
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of SociologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  5. 5.School of Criminal JusticeRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  6. 6.Department of SociologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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