According to the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, there were 2,701 inmates in New Hampshire jails and prisons as of August 1, 2018. That number has been roughly steady over the past year.
NH prison population over time
The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has tracked the prisoner population since 1812, when there was just one inmate.
The prison population increased gradually until the 1980s. The inmate population roughly tripled in that decade. That increase slowed down in the 1990s, and over the past ten years the number of people in New Hampshire jails and prisons has slightly decreased.
This trend of increased incarceration in the 1980s is true across the United States, and is often attributed to the War on Drugs.
Breakdown of crimes in NH prisons
The most severe crime committed by 55% of current inmates was a personal offense, such as sexual assault or homicide.
The most severe crime committed by 20% of current New Hampshire inmates was a property offense, such as burglary.
The most severe crime committed by 18% of current New Hampshire inmates was a drug/alcohol offense.
Given the current drug addiction epidemic, some lawmakers would like to see stronger enforcement of drug laws.
Other policymakers argue the state should decrease enforcement and instead increase treatment opportunities.
Breakdown of races in NH prisons
83% of current New Hampshire inmates are white, non-Hispanic. New Hampshire’s overall population is roughly 91% white, non-Hispanic. That means people of color in New Hampshire have a higher incarceration rate than whites.
For example, the incarceration rate for blacks or African-Americans is 8 per 1,000 residents. The white incarceration rate is only 2 per 1,000 residents.
Other NH prison populations
10 individuals have been transferred to the state prison from New Hampshire Hospital, the state psychiatric hospital, because it does not have a secure psychiatric unit for dangerous patients.
About 9% of New Hampshire inmates are women. In April New Hampshire opened a new state prison for women, following a lawsuit over unequal treatment of male and female prisoners.
NH prison population compared to other states
The rate of incarceration in New Hampshire in 2017 was 2 per 1,000 residents. This is one of the lowest incarceration rates in the nation.
However, many stakeholders still argue that New Hampshire should take steps to reduce its prison population.
Do you have an opinion on New Hampshire’s prison population? Share your thoughts in the comments below.