NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 27, 2004

A record 6.9 million adults were incarcerated or on probation or parole last year, nearly 131,000 more than in 2002, according to a Justice Department study. Put another way, about 3.2 percent of the adult U.S. population, or 1 in 32 adults, were incarcerated or on probation or parole at the end of last year.

The study, released Sunday, focused on those leaving prison for parole or probation. Among the highlights:

  • A record 4.8 million adults, or about 70 percent of adults involved in federal, state or local corrections systems, were on probation or parole in 2003, about 73,000 more than the year before.
  • Almost half of all probationers were convicted of a felony, with 25 percent convicted of a drug violation.
  • Of the 470,500 parolees discharged from supervision last year, 38 percent went back to jail for a new crime or a rule violation, with 9 percent becoming fugitives.

According to the Justice Department, states around the country have increased the use of mandatory parole after prison release and cut down on the use of discretionary releases overseen by parole boards.

Source: "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2003," U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, July 2004.


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