NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Jump In Numbers Of Parolees And Probationers

July 25, 2000

A record 4.5 million people were on parole or probation in the U.S. last year, according to the Justice Department. The biggest increase was in probationers -- reflecting a rise in drug arrests and a decline in the number of drug offenders sent to prison.

  • Twenty-four percent of those on probation were convicted of drug offenses and 18 percent were given probation for drunken driving.
  • The likelihood of going to prison for a drug arrest has declined 30 percent over the last decade.
  • Texas and California were home to more than 1 million of the nation's probationers and parolees.
  • But states with the largest percentages of their adult populations under community supervision were Georgia, with 5.8 percent, and Idaho, with 4.2 percent.

Overall, the number of people under correctional supervision stands at an all-time high of 6.3 million -- with 1.86 million men and women behind bars as of June 1999. In 1980, a little over 1 percent of the adult population was involved in the criminal justice system. Now it is more than 3 percent of all adults, or one out of every 32.

Source: Ellen Nakashima, "Number of Probationers, Parolees at Record Highs," Washington Post, July 24, 2000.


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