Criminal Record Statistics That Can Shock You In 2021

Most people think of America as a global leader in technology, employment opportunities, and living standards. But did you know that the United States is also the global leader when it comes to incarcerations?

Here are some shocking US criminal record statistics.

Disturbing Criminal Record Statistics

The following are some mind-blowing statistics that you need to know.

  • One in every three US adults has a criminal record.
  • There are 2.3 million people in prison in the US, a 500% increase over the last four decades.
  • 27% of ex-convicts in the US are unemployed.
  • Less than half of all crimes are reported.
  • People of color only make up 37% of the total US population, but 67% of the US prison population.
  • 5.17 million Americans are forbidden to cast their votes in the 2020 election because they have a felony record.
  • The average bail bond in the US is $10,000.

General Criminal Record Statistics

Having a criminal record can do lasting damage to one’s reputation and their ability to find employment. Here are some general criminal record statistics of US citizens.

1. Authorities have made over a quarter of a billion arrests in the US over the last 20 years.

(Source: Statista)

Criminal arrest records show that authorities in the United States have made over a quarter of a billion arrests over the past two decades. However, there is a decline in the number of annual arrests over the last few years.

2. One in three US adults holds a criminal record.

(Source: NCSL and Forbes)

According to the latest criminal conviction records, over 77 million Americans hold a criminal record, which makes up for roughly one out of every three US adults. Around 10% of them (7.7 million) have been imprisoned at least once in their lifetime. 

3. Only half of the FBI’s criminal records are updated.

(Source: WSJ)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains a nationwide record of any arrests. But just half of those records are up-to-date. Many of them are not removed or updated in the master criminal records databases once cases are thrown out locally.

4. Nearly half of black males have been arrested at least once by age 23.

(Source: University of South Carolina)

The University of South Carolina put together a study with the data from a 16-year US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey to look at US crime statistics. The research showed that almost half of black American males (49%) were arrested at least once before their 23rd birthday. In comparison, this number was 40% for white males and 44% for Hispanic males.

Crime Statistics by States

Violent crimes affect families, communities, and entire neighborhoods, which can have lasting consequences. The following are some crime statistics by states in the US.

5. Out of all states, California has the highest number of homicides.

(Source: Statista)

US crime statistics looked at the number of homicides per state. With 1,690 murders in 2019, California has the most number of murders. Texas follows with 1,409. But there are a lot of people living in these states, which makes it obvious that the number is higher. When looking at the murder rate, Louisiana stands in first place with 11.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

6. Maine has the lowest violent crime rate in the US.

(Source: Statista)

Looking at the crime rates per state, Maine sees the lowest numbers. The state only has 115.2 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Following are New Hampshire and Connecticut, with 152.5 and 183.6 per 100,000 of the population.

7. More than 100,000 violent crimes are committed in Texas every year.

(Source: Neighborhood Scout)

Alongside California, Texas is the second US state where over 100,000 violent crimes are committed every year. The exact number was 121,474 in 2019. The number is even higher if you look at property crimes, such as burglaries and vehicle theft, at 693,204 in the same year.

Criminal Justice Statistics

The FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) are the two primary sources of government crime statistics in the United States.

8. Property crime is more common compared to violent crime.

(Source: Pew Research)

Property crime involves property or vehicles. This could be burglary, motor vehicle theft, shoplifting, vandalism, and more. According to an FBI report, there were 2,109 property crimes per 100,000 individuals in 2019 compared to an average of 379 violent crimes committed per 100,000.

9. Less than half of all crimes are reported.

(Source: Pew Research)

Criminal justice statistics show that most crimes go unreported. In 2019, only just over 40% of violent crimes and 32% of household property crimes were reported to the authorities. 

10. Law enforcement cleared only 45.5% of all violent crimes reported in 2019.

(Source: Pew Research)

According to a survey, the police successfully cleared 45.5% of all violent crimes reported nationwide in 2019. Shockingly, that percentage is even lower for property crimes. Only 17.2% of them were cleared.

11. In 2019, 52.1% of aggravated assault cases were reported.

(Source: Pew Research)

Aggravated assault cases were more commonly reported to law enforcement, with only 52.1% of them being recorded in 2019. The number is lower for other crimes, such as robbery (46.6%), simple assault (37.9%), and rape/sexual assault (33.9%).

12. Homicides are the most frequently solved types of crimes.

(Source: Pew Research)

According to crime conviction statistics, the police solved 61.4% of murders in 2019. When looking at other types of crimes, the number is much lower. Out of all reported aggravated assaults, only 52.3% were solved, and the number is only 32.9% for rape cases and 30.5% for robberies.

Wrongful Conviction Stats

Not only can a wrongful conviction destroy one’s life, but it can also have a ripple effect that lasts long after the conviction is lifted or the penalty is completed. Here are some mind-boggling statistics of wrongful convictions.

13. African-American convicted murderers are 50% more likely to be innocent than others.

(Source: University of California Irvine)

Unfortunately, race plays a role in wrongful convictions. African-American prisoners convicted of murder are 50% more likely to be innocent than other convicted murderers. The number is even higher if these people are convicted of killing white victims.

14. Texas had 363 exonerations over the past three decades.

(Source: Neal Davis Law)

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Texas had the highest number of exonerations over the past three decades. Despite having one of the strictest laws on crime in the US, there were 363 cases. Illinois follows with 303 pardons during the same period.

15. A black prisoner serving time for sexual assault is 3½ times more likely to be innocent than a white convict.

(Source: University of California Irvine)

Criminal justice statistics show that African-American males serving time for sexual assault are up to 3½ times more likely to be innocent than white males convicted of the same crime.

Criminal Record Employment Statistics

Having a criminal record can make it exponentially harder to find a job in the United States. Many previous convicts remain jobless or restricted to blue-collar employment options. Let’s take a look at some criminal record employment statistics.

16. 27% of ex-convicts in the US are unemployed.

(Source: Prison Policy)

Statistics show that more than a quarter of formerly incarcerated people in the US failed to find a job after they were released. This number is higher than the nation’s unemployment rate during the Great Depression (25%). Statistics like this show how hard it can be to find a job when you have a criminal record.

17. Substance-related felonies and misdemeanors are more likely to be overlooked by employers than other crimes.

(Source: SHRM)

A SHRM survey showed that 65% of managers and 78% of HR professionals are willing to overlook substance-related felonies when hiring new employees. When looking at job seekers with criminal records, including misdemeanors (like shoplifting), 67% of managers and 70% of HR professionals are prepared to hire them.

18. Criminal records that include sexual offenses are least likely to be overlooked by employers.

(Source: SHRM)

According to statistics, criminal records that include sexual offenses are the least likely to be overlooked by employers. Only 11% of managers and 9% of HR professionals are willing to hire someone with a criminal history that includes sexual offenses.

19. Six states are offering rehabilitation certificates to those with a criminal history.

(Source: SHRM)

Employers in six US states (California, Nevada, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois) offer rehabilitation certifications for potential employees who have a criminal record.

Felony Statistics

A felony is a crime that is considered more severe as compared to a misdemeanor. Crimes include murder, kidnap, rape, arson, or burglary. Here are some shocking felony statistics.

20. 5.17 million Americans were forbidden to cast their votes in the 2020 election due to having a felony record.

(Source: Sentencing Project)

Criminal record statistics show that 5.17 million Americans have been disenfranchised because of having a felony conviction. That’s 2.3% of the entire voting-age American population.

21. 900,000 Floridians remain disenfranchised despite completing their sentence.

(Source: Sentencing Project)

According to estimates, nearly 900,000 Floridians are disenfranchised even after completing their entire sentences. It’s shocking to see such a high number despite the 2018 ballot referendum, which promised to restore the voting rights of those with a criminal record.

22. 15% of the African-American male population has served time.

(Source: UGA Today)

According to research carried out by the University of Georgia, around 15% of African-American males have served time in the US.

Incarceration Statistics

In the United States, incarceration is considered to be the primary form of punishment. The following are some mass incarceration statistics in the United States.

23. 2.3 million Americans are incarcerated.

(Source: Prison Policy Initiative)

Over 2.3 million adults are incarcerated in the US, amounting to around 698 individuals per 100,000 US citizens.

24. There are 1,501 black prisoners for every 100,000 black US adults.

(Source: Pew Research)

While the average number of prisoners per 100,000 adults in the US is 698, the number is much higher when looking at African-Americans. For every 100,000 black US adults, there are 1,501 black prisoners. In contrast, there are only 268 white prisoners for every 100,000 white US adults.

25. The average bail bond is $10,000 in the US.

(Source: Prison Policy Initiative)

According to statistics, the median bail amount for a felony in the US is $10,000. This number is more than eight months of income for the typical prisoner.

Wrap Up

So, there you have it. Some essential criminal record statistics you should know to increase your knowledge. Just make sure you get the numbers right!

FAQ

What percentage of people are criminals?

33% of US adults hold a criminal record, which amounts to 77 million people.

What percentage of the population are convicted felons?

United States crime statistics show that around 8% of people are convicted felons. The percentage is much higher for African American males, at 33%.

What looks bad on a background check?

A few things look bad on a background check, including any criminal records, multiple periods of unemployment, poor credit scores, inconsistencies on your resume, bad references, failed drug tests, bad driving history, and more. If you’re worried about what may show up, you can use one of the best background check sites to see what future employers can see.

What percentage of arrests lead to convictions?

According to criminal record statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 68% of arrests lead to convictions in the US. This number can differ depending on the type of crime, however.

How long are criminal records kept?

Criminal records are kept for an indefinite period.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Nele’s love for writing started at a young age, but didn’t fully blossom until she decided to pack her bags, move to the UK, and pursue a degree in English and Creative Writing. Her interest in anything digital marketing was sparked after starting a travel blog right before graduating. Working as an editor for TechJury has fuelled that passion even further. Not to mention taking advantage of all the tech facts she can now use to impress people at parties.

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Criminal Record Statistics That Can Shock You In 2021