This report uses Decennial Census data to examine the fraction of young males incarcerated in correctional facilities. This may be problematic because the American Community Survey and more recent Census public use micro data do not reveal if a youth is incarcerated in a correctional facility. Rather the micro data reveals if the youth is institutionalized. The institutionalized population includes those in juvenile institutions, hospitals and psychiatric facilities in addition to those in correctional facilities. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the Census accurately captures incarcerated youths and the trends evident in the Census micro data are supported by administrative counts.
First, most young institutionalized males are in correctional facilities. The Census Bureau’s population estimates program generates estimates of the number of young males who are institutionalized. These are shown below for July 1, 2007. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates the number of young males held in state or federal prison or local jails. The table below reports the number of inmates for June 30, 2007.
Around 97% of young institutionalized males are likely incarcerated in correctional facilities.
Second, the Decennial Census appears to fairly accurately count the number of inmates in correctional facilities. The table below reports the number of males of all ages residing in correctional facilities as of April 1, 2000, and compares it to the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates for the number of inmates in state or federal prisons or local jails for June 30, 2000.
Third, recent trends in young institutionalization evident in the Census micro data are consistent with the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates. Figure 14 indicates that the fraction of young black males institutionalized has decreased since 2000 from 9% to 7% in 2007. The share of young Hispanic males institutionalized appears to have remained relatively constant at 3%. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates incarceration rates for young males and their reported trends are similar: