One out of every 136 US residents in prison

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ONE in every 136 residents in the United States is behind bars, according to new government figures, which also revealed that American prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year.

The total on 30 June, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004. The 2.6 per cent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.

Prisons accounted for about two-thirds of all inmates, or 1.4 million, while the other third, nearly 750,000, were in local jails, according to the bureau of justice statistics.

Jails often hold inmates for state or federal systems, as well as people who have yet to begin serving a sentence. "The jail population is increasingly unconvicted," an official said. "Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pre-trial."

The report by the Justice Department agency found that 62 per cent of people in jails have not been convicted, with many awaiting trial.

Overall, 738 people were locked up for every 100,000 residents, compared with a rate of 725 at mid-2004.

The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia, with over 1 per cent of their populations in prison or jail.

Men were ten to 11 times more likely than women to be in prison or jail, but the number of women behind bars was growing at a faster rate.