The public is fascinated with prison and what goes on behind the walls.

There are several television shows and documentaries about the subject, including one where several people go undercover and pose as inmates, to find ways to improve prisons around the country.

How much do you know about the prison population here in New Jersey?  You may be surprised by some of the statistics.

The Difference Between Jail and Prison

The first thing we need to do is define the difference between a prison and a jail.

Jails are typically operated on the county level, and house prisoners awaiting trial or serving shorter terms.

Prisons are run by the state or federal government.

For this story, our focus is on the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

NJ Prison Popultation

According to a report in World Population Review, New Jersey is ranked 28th in the country for the total number of people incarcerated.

New Jersey also has one of the lowest incarceration rates per 100k.  268 men per 100,000 population are currently serving time.  That's among the lowest in the country.

New Jersey's prison population is relatively low.  It wasn't always that way.

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, lawmakers enacted a law that allowed for the early release of certain non-violent prisoners.

This resulted in a dramatic decrease in the New Jersey prison population.

The system currently houses approximately 11,176 men and 386 women.

75% of the men and 73% of the women were convicted of violent crimes.

The median age of all NJ inmates is 37

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Gallery Credit: Steve McKay/Townsquare Media

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Gallery Credit: Steve McKay/Townsquare Media