It should come as no surprise to PLN readers that all statistics relating to crime and punishment are on the increase. The 1990 probation and parole figures recently released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains no surprises.
During 1990 the number of adults on probation or on parole increased to record high levels. State and federal agencies reported that 2,670,234 adult offenders were on probation and 531,407 were on parole - an estimated 1.7% of all adults in the United States. The number of men on probation or parole was about 3% of all adult males.
The estimated total of adults in the nation under some form of correctional supervision, including those in local jails or state and federal prisons, reached a new high of over 4.3 million - an increase of about 7% since 1989 and 44% since 1985. An estimated 1 out of every 43 adults in the U.S. were under some form of correctional supervision on a given day in 1990. One in every 24 men and 1 in every 162 women were being supervised.
The probation population in 1990 showed a 5.9% gain over the previous year's count. The number of adults on probation increased at a rate of 6.1%. The increase in the probation population occurred in every region, with the West reporting the highest gain (9.5%) and the Northeast the lowest (3.7%).
The parole population grew 16.3% during 1990. Five states reported increases above 30% of their 1989 parole population: Oklahoma (62.4%), Oregon (38.5%), Vermont (35.4%), Arizona (32.4%), and North Carolina (30.7%). Among regions of the country, the parole population in the Midwest showed the largest percentage increase over the year, gaining 17.8%. The Northeast had the slowest growing parole population, with an increase of 16.4%.
More than 85% of those released from prison receive supervision in the community. Prisoners enter parole supervision either by a discretionary parole board decision or by fulfilling the conditions for a mandatory (good time) release. The percent of supervised mandatory releases from prison increased fivefold over the past 12 years (denial of parole), from about 6% of all released in 1977 to nearly 30% in 1990. The number of prisoners released by a parole board decision declined from almost 72% of all released in 1977 to about 41% in 1990.
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