Growth in the U.S. Ex-Felon and Ex-Prisoner Population, 1948-2010
Sarah Shannon, University of Minnesota
Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota
Melissa Thompson, Portland State University
The steep rise in U.S. criminal punishment in recent decades has spurred scholarship on the collateral consequences of imprisonment for individuals, families and communities (Pager 2009; Wakefield and Uggen 2010; Western 2006; Wildeman 2009). While several excellent studies have estimated the size and social distribution of the former prisoner population (Bonczar and Beck 1997; Pettit and Western 2004), far less is known about the size and scope of the total ex-felon population beyond prison walls. This paper extends previous national estimates of the U.S. ex-felon population to 2010 and develops state-level estimates based on demographic life tables (Uggen, Manza and Thompson 2006). The felon population has far-reaching consequences for individuals as well as communities and social institutions, including civic engagement and community health.