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County Jail Population
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Offenders sentenced to a maximum sentence of less than two years confinement serve their time in county jails while those with five years or more are sentenced to state prison. Judges have discretion as to where to sentence offenders with a maximum confinement sentence of between two and five years. Several factors should be considered in analyzing county jail population. First, county jail population data are limited to average daily population. Given the shorter sentences and faster turnaround of offenders, this is a more relevant measure. Second, the population data reflect the counties where offenders are housed and not necessarily the home counties of offenders or the sentencing counties. Some counties house offenders for other counties (such as Bedford, Clinton, Elk, Franklin, Warren, and Wyoming). This may reflect in seemingly higher incarceration rates for those counties. Third, four counties do not have county jails: Cameron, Forest, Fulton, and Sullivan. Last, data are not available annually for a few counties. In this instance, the most recent data are used.
In Pennsylvania during 2011, the average daily county jail population totals ranged from 25 offenders in Montour County to 7,819 offenders in Philadelphia County. Using the most recent year of data for all counties, Pennsylvania’s total average daily county jail population equaled 34,823 or 273.3 offenders per 100,000 population.
Keywords: County Jail
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Pennsylvania has large variability in its county populations, from rural to urban. Therefore, the rate of average daily population per 100,000 county population should be used for county comparisons.
In total, using most recent data available, the average daily county jail population was 273.3 offenders for every 100,000 Pennsylvanians during 2011. Individually, rates ranged from an average daily population of 78.0 offenders per 100,000 persons in Union County to a rate of 808.5 in Clinton County. The higher rate in Clinton County is a reflection of low county population and higher average daily jail population due to housing offenders from other counties.
Keywords: County Jail, Map
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