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Nearly 7 Million Under Correctional Supervision In U.S.

At yearend 2004, nearly 7 million adults were in prison, on parole, or on probation in the U.S.--2.5 million more than in 1990--according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics released on November 2, 2005.
Put another way, roughly 1 in every 31 adults were under some form of correctional supervision on December 31, 2004. By comparison, approximately 1 in 36 adults were under supervision in 1995, and about 1 in 88 in 1980.
The number of adults on parole increased by 20,230, or 2.7%, during 2004, more than double the average yearly increase of 1.37 since 1995, according to the study. A total of 765,355 adults were on parole at years end
Overall, discretionary releases by a parole board have declined significantly over the past two decades, from 55% in 1980 to 22% in 2003, the study found. During the same period, mandatory releases to parole (due to sentencing statutes or good-time provisions) increased from 19% to 52%. The unwillingness of parole boards to grant early release, regardless of prisoners conduct or accomplishments while in prison, is simply another facet of the lock em up and throw away the key mentality.

Thirty-nine states showed an increase in the number of parolees during 2004, with 10 states experiencing double-digit growth. Nebraska led with 24%, followed by Vermont (16%), and New Mexico (15%). Allen Beck, who oversaw the study, says the rise in parole numbers is a natural consequence of the spike in prison populations during the 1990s.

Of all parolees at yearend 2004, 41 % were black, 40% white, and 18% Hispanic. One in 8 parolees were female. About 187,000 parolees, or 39%, were re-imprisoned in 2004 due to technical violations or new offenses.
The number of probationers also grew in 2004, to 4,151,125--an increase of 6,343. According to the report, 26% of people on probation were convicted of a drug offense, 15% for driving while intoxicated, and 12% for larceny or theft.

Whites comprised 56% of those on probation, but made up only 34% of the prison population, the study found. White people--for whatever reason--seem to have more access to community supervision than African-Americans and Hispanics, said Jason Ziedenberg, who heads the Justice Policy Institute, which advocates for alternatives to mass imprisonment. Blacks, he said, constituted 41% of prisoners at yearend 2004, but made up only 30% of probationers.

As for prisoners, the U.S. prison population grew 1.97 in 2004, a high of nearly 2.3 million (2,267,787) by years end.

Get a copy of the report, Probation and Parole in the United States, 2004, NCJ 210676, on the Web at or by writing NCJRS, P.O. Box 6000, Rockville, Maryland 20849-6000.

Additional source: Associated Press

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