What Percentage of The US Adult Population Has a Felony Conviction?

If you’ve ever wondered about this question, then this 2010 study is for you!

About 25% of the total US adult black population has a felony, while 6.5% of adult non-blacks have a felony conviction. About 8.6% of the adult population has a felony conviction.

Florida is a particularly egregious police state.  35% of adult blacks in Florida have felony conviction, 14% of the total adult population in Florida have a felony conviction.

About 20 million people have a felony conviction in Amerika.  That works out to about 1 in 12 adult Americans.

Note, those numbers are for 2010.  Looking at the growth rate trajectory, we are probably up to around 24 million people today in 2014 with a felony conviction. This means we are probably pushing 10% of the adult population today.  Of course, these aggregate percentages include women, which as we all know account for a small portion of all felony convictions.

One other thing to consider is that a large number of would-be felonies are plead down to misdemeanors, so the actual total number of people who were caught committing a felonious act is undoubtedly much higher than these numbers portray.

If no criminals took a plea deal, and all felonies were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, the entire US criminal justice system would implode within a year.  Over 95% of federal cases never go to trial.

Read the book Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate.  After you’re done reading that, watch some people getting arrested for feeding the homeless and for slow dancing in public.  I got plenty more where those came from.

For a comparison, here’s how cops in Norway behave.  If those were American cops, that drunk would have been slapped with a felony resisting and public intoxication charge and might not even be alive today from the beating they would have given him.  Each one of those felonies represents thousands of dollars being taken from your pocket.

The paper notes:

This paper has described growth in the size and social distribution of the American “criminal class.” If we use current or former imprisonment as the criterion for class membership, we estimate its size at approximately 7.7 million people at year-end 2010. By our estimates, about 3.4 percent of the adult voting age population have once served or are currently serving time in a state or federal prison. If we adopt a more inclusive definition of the criminal class, including all convicted of a felony regardless of imprisonment, these numbers increase to 19.8 million persons, representing 8.6 percent of the adult population and approximately one third of the African American adult male population. Any group of this size will have profound and far-reaching social, political, and demographic consequences. Because the felon population is drawn so heavily from the most disadvantaged groups in American society, however, understanding this group’s historical growth and current size is vitally important for understanding and addressing U.S. social inequalities.

  • thetruthmaster1

    3 out of 4 Blacks prefer to shoot and kill blacks. 75% of crime and convictions in my FL County are committed by blacks, but only make up 17% of the population. Whites make up 67%. Instead of Obama trying to ban guns, we should just ban Blacks and that would drop crime by 75%. VOTE HERE IF YOU AGREE.

  • Swannyww

    cops get promoted for felony arrests, get it?

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  • Brianmartin93

    it is a system that feeds on itself and will eventually decimate the workforce, military recruitment, etc, but maybe that is the plan, they don’t care how many nonviolent peoples lives and families they destroy. We will just get more h1b visa out or more deployments

  • GolfingGabe

    The Prison Industrial Complex: Incarceration as a Growth Industry. That could be the title of a documentary. The truth is, America has been becoming ever more a police state. If an angel lost it’s wings every time someone’s civil rights were violated, Heaven would have been empty years ago. Politicians legislate “tough on crime” bills to appease the Right Wing voters and the PACs, lobbyists, and SIGs – none of whom are representative of, or concerned about, the average citizen.

    We’re merely livestock to feed the GDP…

    • http://www.joethevoter.org Paul Kruger

      This is the dark underbelly of capitalism. I know Libertarians and the GOP never met a capitalist they did not like but the proof is in their deeds.

      Capitalism is okay. I own a business. But that should never be a license to steel from the poor to further enrich the already wealthy.

      With great reward comes great responsibility.

      I am a director for a justice reform organization and we see those with the least being “taxed” by private corporations who increasingly stand between an incarcerated loved one and the “system” who has helped extort money from people in the free world who happen to have a loved one in prison or jail.

      Rehabilitation now comes with a price tag and it is pinned on the poor families outside, not on the state who should bear the responsibility for those it locks up. And we ALL pay for this disgrace.



  • http://www.joethevoter.org Paul Kruger

    We are no longer a Democracy thanks in part to rampant capitalism. By way of “Citizens United” the wholesale purchase of politicians and our system of government by those few who own the most, the rest of America is left with whatever those at the top deem us worthy to have.

    The constitution means nothing to a corrupt political process and money is the main corrupting influence. People like the Koch Brothers spend hundreds of millions to manipulate a system ruled by greed, not by common sense or ethical concerns for the majority of our citizens.

    While not a huge fan of regulations, some are necessary to protect the average from the whims of the wealthy/corporations. Big money talks and has taken over our justice system already. Legislators love a free ride and a kick back so they legalize both in the name of “pubic safety” and money saving only to shift the burden to those who have the least in order to save money for those with the most.

    http://joethevoter.org #joethevoter