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Probation and Parole Populations Continued to Rise in 2001

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), in a bulletin released in August 2002, the total number of adult women and men under some form of correctional supervision --jail, prison, probation, or parole rose to 6,592,800 by the end of 2001. According to the report, "[a]bout 3.1% of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 32 adults, were incarcerated or on probation or parole at yearend 2001." This represents an increase of about 2.3% from year end 2000. The BJS bulletin, titled Probation and Parole in the United States, 2001, focuses primarily on changes in the probation and parole populations.

The nearly 6.6 million persons in the adult correctional population represented 3,932,751 persons on probation, 731,147 on parole, 631,240 in jail, and 1,330,980 in prison.

Parole has been the slowest-growing portion of the correctional population since 1995. The parole population grew only about 1.0% in 2001, compared to 2000. By contrast, the probation population grew 2.8%, the jail population grew 1.6%, and the prison population grew 1.1%, compared to 2000. "Offenders on probation or parole represented nearly 71% of all persons under correctional supervision at yearend 2001," the report stated.

In 2001, seventeen states' parole populations shrunk, the largest decreases being seen in West Virginia (down 16%) and North Carolina (down 12%). Only eleven states' parole populations increased by 10% or more; the three largest increases were seen in Oklahoma (up nearly 87%), Idaho (up almost 20%), and Arkansas (up 19%). At year end 2001, there were about 350 persons per 100,000 adult residents on parole. Pennsylvania had the largest number of parolees per 100,000 adult residents (921), excluding the District of Columbia, California, Texas, and Pennsylvania had the three largest parole populations.

The report found that 1 out of every 5 probationers was female; 1 out of every 3 probationers was African-American. Maine, Colorado, Kentucky, and Virginia saw the largest increases in probation populations in 2001. Nevada, Arkansas, and North Carolina had the greatest decreases in probation populations during the same time period. Idaho, Washington, and Delaware were the states with the largest rates of persons supervised per 100,000 adult U.S. residents. The Federal probation population decreased by 0.3% in 2001, while the overall Federal correctional population rose.

Generally, states with the highest correctional supervision rates had much lower percentages of their correctional populations in prison or jail. Texas was an exception to this trend. The three states with the lowest percentage of their correctional populations incarcerated were Minnesota (8.9% of all persons under correctional supervision), Vermont (12.1%), and Rhode Island (12.4%). The three states with the largest percentages of their correctional populations incarcerated were Mississippi (60.0%), Virginia (55.1%), and Nevada (50.7%). The Federal government in 2001 had 57.8% of its correctional population incarcerated. The average incarceration rate for all states was half the federal rate (28.6%, average of all states).

The bulletin is Probation and Parole in the United States, 2001. It is report number NCJ 195669, dated August 2002. One copy of the report is free by writing the National Criminal Justice Resource Clearinghouse, Post Office Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20849-6000. The report can also be downloaded in ASCII or portable document format (.PDF) from the BJS web site at:

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