(STACKER) — The United States has a higher incarceration rate than any other country in the world, but as violent crime trends have gone down nationwide in recent decades, the number of incarcerated people in America has continued to climb until just recently.

In response to increasing fears over violent crime in cities in the 1980s, many politicians endorsed “tough on crime” policies that increased the incarcerated population by thousands — many of who are still behind bars today.

Virginia’s numbers in comparison to the United States at large paint a bleak picture. Virginia has over four times as many incarcerated Black people as incarcerated White people, even though Black people make up only about 12.5% of Virginia’s population.

Almost 8% of incarcerated people in Virginia are serving life sentences and 4.5% are serving life sentences without parole, both of which are over twice the nationwide percentage. Virginia also has the fifth-highest felony disenfranchisement rate at 6,000 for every 100,000 residents.

Below are some more Virginia prison population statistics:

  • Total incarcerated, prison and jail: 64,781
    — Prison population: 36,091
    — Prison incarceration rate per 100,000: 422 (#16 highest among all states)
    — Jail population (2013): 28,690
    — Jail incarceration rate per 100,000 (2013): 450 (#7 highest among all states)
  • Private prison population: 1,540
  • Probation population: 65,520
  • Parole population: 1,921
  • Life sentences (2020): 2,867
    — Life without parole (2020): 1,628
    — Juvenile life without parole (2020): 50
  • White imprisonment rate per 100,000: 287 (#23 highest among all states)
  • Black imprisonment rate per 100,000: 1,246 (#32 highest among all states)
    — Black to white ratio: 4.3
  • Hispanic imprisonment rate per 100,000: 135 (#43 highest among all states)
    — Hispanic to white ratio: 0.5
  • Corrections expenditures: $1,488 million


Stacker compiled statistics about incarceration demographics in Virginia using data from the Sentencing Project. All data is from 2019 unless otherwise specified.