Prisoners and the Census facts for features: Texas

To aid journalists covering our Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Texas report, we have put together a list of interesting facts we discovered about Texas that are not necessarily in the Importing Constituents report.

Comparative incarceration

At mid-year 2000, Texas incarcerated 163,503 of its citizens in prisons or jails, or 779 per 100,000 people. Texas was second only to California (164,490) in the number of its citizens behind bars, and second only to Louisiana (793 per 100,000) in the portion of its citizens incarcerated. (Data table, [PDF] scroll to Table 2) By mid-year 2003, Texas's population had grown to be the largest state prison population, although the federal system is now even larger. Texas's incarceration rate rose to 803 per 100,000 residents, but Louisiana's still "outranks" Texas. (Data table, [PDF] scroll to Highlights)


  • In the United States, 21 counties have at least 21% of their Census population in prison. Ten of those counties are in Texas. (Data table)
  • Ten of the counties in Texas that the Census Bureau reported were growing during the 1990s actually lost population but for the construction of new prisons. (Data table)
  • Even when ignoring counties with small Black populations, 17 Texas counties have half of their Black population behind bars. (Data table)
  • 58% (444 out of 758) of the Latinos in Hartley County are incarcerated.

Cities and towns with prisons

  • Huntsville in Walker County has 15,429 people, or 25% of its population behind bars. It is in Congressional District 8, Senate District 5, House District 13, all districts with the highest or second highest percentage of prisoners included as residents.
  • Gatesville, Texas has 57% (8,950 out of 15,591) of its Census population incarcerated. It is in the 29th Congressional District, the 22nd Senate District and the 59 House District.
  • The City of Eden, near the geographic center of Texas, has more than half (51%; 1,299 out of 2,561) of its Census population incarcerated in a private prison in the town.

Prisoner origin

  • In 2001, 19,528 of Texas's prisoners were from Dallas county (15.4%) and 27,332 were from Harris County (21.5%). 2001 Statistical Report
  • For an analysis of how incarcerated people are concentrated from specific areas within Dallas, Forth Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, TX, see A Portrait of Prisoner Reentry in Texas, a 2004 report from the Urban Institute. (This report focuses on the addresses of prisoners released in a particular time period, not where people behind bars on Census day were from. As such, this data is not readily adaptable to show how many people should have been counted where,, but it does make the point very effectively that Texas's prisoners are highly concentrated in origin. While urban areas tend to have higher incarceration rates than the state average, specific neighborhoods have even higher rates of imprisonment than the cities as a whole.)

Stay Informed

Get the latest updates:

Share on 𝕏 Donate