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.

For the socialists who blame “capitalism” for this mess, here’s small taste of what a real market based system might look like:

  • 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?

    • enviropal99

      Police arrest. Juries convict. If the evidence is not there then the arrest will be for nothing.

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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

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  • 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…

    • 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://flcure.org

      —–

      • GolfingGabe

        I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

      • ThreeRing

        The USA is not a capitalist state. The USA is a crony capitalist oligarchy in which massive corporate interests abuse the regulatory structures of the State to discourage competition from smaller businesses. In addition, they control or influence the awarding of State, City, and Federal contracts to benefit themselves and award themselves a profit margin that smaller businesses simply do not have access to. They’ve always said that it isn’t what you know, but who you know- and that’s true, but even more influential is WHO YOU CONTROL in Congress, the City Council, and State legislatures or the governor’s office.

        It is in that regard very similar to feudalism, for the same reasons that Soviet “socialism” was feudalism by party connection instead of familial lineage.

        • SoldierCynic

          Oligarchy is the natural end state of capitalism and the political systems adopted from the Enlightenment ideals. The more we deregulate the quicker this end state becomes reality.

          • enviropal99

            Control is the worst thing we can do to a business. It all ends up in a socialist economy and we have all seen how those end up. The US is the oldest democracy in the history of the world and the richest as well. It has been accomplished by letting people do what they want to do and not what the government wants them to do.

      • Sapient1

        Hi Paul

        Re: “Capitalism is okay. I own a business. But that should never be a license to steel [steal] from the poor to further enrich the already wealthy.”

        Just so we are on the same page, could you elaborate on just what you mean by “steel” [steal} in this context?

        When I look up the word in Websters, its says this:

        “…to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice”

        How is it that a business owner steals from the poor in order to enrich the already wealthy, as you are describing it here?

        Thanks
        God bless
        S

      • enviropal99

        Yet it was socialists that have murdered about 100 million people in the 20th century.

  • 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

    //

    • FrozenPatriot

      We never were a democracy. We’re a constitutional republic, and there’s a big difference.

      http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=111

      • michael hegyan

        Move to Iran.

        • FrozenPatriot

          I fail to see how your comment applies to mine…

        • ThreeRing

          The mere existence of worse forms of government does not serve as validation for our own.

          • rch427

            Nor does the mere existence of hypothetically better forms of government condemn our own.

        • enviropal99

          Are you an Iranian looking for a boyfriend?

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  • Dean Weingarten

    Actual numbers of felons are much, much lower than this study claim. Total number of convicted felons in the NICS database is less than 2 million, not even 1% of the U.S. population.

    http://gunwatch.blogspot.com/2015/12/who-are-prohibited-possessors-on-nics.html

    • The majority of felons never enter the prison system. A disqualifying crime has to be a felony with a possible GREATER than one year sentence or a misdemeanor with a GREATER than 2 year sentence in order to qualify for entry into the NICS system. Further, that crime has to be reported to the feds by the state, which may or may not happen on a routine basis. The NICS system is a poor indicator of the actual total number of felons that exist.

      • Dean Weingarten

        On further research, there are four databases that NICS references to determine if someone has a felony conviction. The NICS only database is a minority subset of convicted felons. So the study numbers may well be correct. Thank you for the information. Your analysis of why NICS has too low of a number of felons is incorrect, but the idea that it is an undercount is right, for different reasons.

    • mitch d

      According to DOJ Databases 1.2 million persons were convicted of a felony offense in the year 2004 alone. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fssc04.pdf

      • enviropal99

        If we made all drugs legal then we would not have all these useless arrests. Adults should be able to do what they want as long as it does not directly harm another person. Legalize drugs and end the War on Drugs which was lost before it started.

  • grumpygramma

    We don’t make decisions in this country based on an intelligent discussion of what is right and best for the majority. We base it on politicians and locaal authorties trying to afvance their careers. The media follows right along

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  • Soupor Juan

    Unless there is some form of assault against the arresting LEO – “resisting” and “drunk” are usually [both} misdemeanors…. otherwise, some good info here.

  • Princess Kamilah-Ayisha Rashie

    Since 1994- that’s all that’s approached me for sex: felons! I am abstinent. (They even went to the same college i did)

  • Jay Edward

    http://Www.rentguarantee.us provides rent guarantee programs for felons. Housing felons is serious business. Anyone who has a record should check us out.

  • hdhometheater

    Prisons for profit is destroying America. The corruption this system has on State, and county governments, penetrates our whole society. The same goes with prosecutors win at all cost & police forfeitures. Land of the Free my *##

    • steve48

      If you obey the law it is the land of the free. You act like you’re even restricted of saying “my ass”.

  • steve48

    This is why I’ll never become a full on libertarian. Most of them think there should be no criminal laws in this country when in fact the country was built on being a nation of laws. I’m amused reading the comments here about large corporations and capitalism somehow forcing the criminal to commit the crime.

  • thank you

  • People & Government

    So this article claims that there are a lot of people arrested. Please show many any evidence numerically that a substantial number of the felons were wrongfully convicted. And aren’t most violent crimes unsolved? This article makes a bunch of claims with nothing to back them up.

  • yes its good