Skip Header

Sonya R. Porter, John L. Voorheis, William Sabol


As the incarcerated population grew from the 1980s through the late 2000s, so too did the number of correctional facilities. An increasing number of these facilities have been constructed in rural areas. While research has shown there has been growth in prisons and prisoners in rural areas, there are no recent national-level statistics regarding the urban-rural status of correctional facilities and inmates, the urban-rural status of inmates prior to prison, or an accounting of how many inmates from urban or rural areas are incarcerated in urban and rural facilities. Using 2010 decennial census and Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2004 Survey of Prison Inmates data we describe these patterns. We find that a disproportionate share of prisons and inmates are located in rural areas, while a disproportionate share of inmates are from urban areas. Our research could inform discussions about the potential consequences of Census Bureau residence criteria for inmates.

Back to Header