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BJS Report Reveals Parole Supervision Characteristics

In 2006, nearly 68,000 state employees supervised 660,959 adult parolees – about 83 percent of 798,202 total parolees – according to a Special Report of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Parole officers had an average caseload of 28 active parolees.

Approximately half of the nation’s adult parolees are supervised by five states: California (125,067), Texas (101,175), New York (53,215), Illinois (33,354), and Pennsylvania (24,956), according to a 2006 Census of State Parole Supervising Agencies cited in the report.

Thirty-five of the 52 reporting agencies also supervised about one quarter of the 4,237,023 adults on probation as of December 31, 2006. These agencies supervised more than four times as many probationers (1,200,570) as parolees (269,416).

Thirteen of the 19 agencies responsible for release decisions reported that in 2005-2006, 126,641 prisoners were considered for release but only 57,850 (46%) were released.
North Dakota released a high of 76% of prisoners, followed closely by Connecticut at 71 percent.

Sixty-six percent of parolees were required to have face-to-face contact with a parole officer at least once a month, according to the report. Of those ,14 percent were required to have weekly contact. Seventeen percent of parolees were required to meet with a parole officer less than once a month, or to contact only by mail, telephone or other means. Thirteen percent were no longer required to report on a regular basis, and the reporting status of three percent had not yet been determined. In all, nearly 80 percent of adult offenders were on active supervision.

Forty-seven agencies required parolees to participate in a drug treatment program. Twenty-one of those agencies reported an average of 10.9 percent of parolees (28,084 of 258,652) were in drug treatment. Forty-six agencies also required parolees to participate in “self help” or “drug awareness” programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous. On June 30, 2006, seven of those agencies had 17.1% of parolees (4,510 or 26,333) enrolled in such a program. The other agencies could not determine the number.

Similarly, 46 agencies offered some type of housing assistance: 7 had working relationships with government housing agencies; 6 contracted with private rental agencies; 4 had in-house services to provide housing referrals; 10 operated other types of programs; and 4 agencies offered two or more types of housing assistance.

Twenty-five agencies offered formal employment assistance: 17 had a working relationship with a government employment agency; 8 contracted with private employment services; and 6 offered other types of employment assistance. Seven agencies offered more than one type of employment assistance.

Eighteen agencies were responsible for conducting parole revocation hearings. In 2005-2006, 16 of those agencies held 67,534 revocation hearings. “A total of 317,828 parolees were at risk of re-incarceration” during this period, according to the report.

All 50 agencies drug tested parolees, and eight of those agencies provided statistics of reincarceration for dirty urinalysis tests, while 42 other agencies “could not” provide such statistics. Of those that did, Tennessee reincarcerated the lowest percentage of parolees at .5% and South Dakota represented the highest reincarceration rate at 15.8 percent. Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming reported reincarceration rates ranging between 2.9% and 9.7%.

The report, entitled “Characteristics of State Parole Supervising Agencies, 2006” (August 2008) is available online at

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