Probation and Parole

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Chapter 8
Probation and Parole

Most of the correctional population of the United Statesthose under the supervision of correctional authoritiesare walking about freely. They are people on probation or parole. According to Lauren E. Glaze and Thomas P. Bonczar of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), in Probation and Parole in the United States, 2005 (November 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ppus05.pdf), 4.2 million people were on probation, 784,000 were on parole, and 2.2 million were in jail or prison in 2005. For every person behind bars, more than two people convicted of crimes were on the street. Probationers and parolees, however, were still under official supervision, and most had to satisfy requirements placed on them as a condition of freedom or of early release from correctional facilities.

A probationer is someone who has been convicted of a crime and sentencedbut the person's sentence has been suspended on condition that he or she behaves in the manner ordered by the court. Probation sometimes follows a brief period of incarceration; more often it is granted by the court immediately.

A parolee is an individual who has served a part of his or her sentence in jail and prison but, because of good behavior or legislative mandate, has been granted freedom before the sentence is fully served. The sentence remains in effect, however, and the parolee continues to be under the jurisdiction of a parole board. If the person fails to live up to the conditions of the release, the parolee may be confined again.

Glaze and Bonczar indicate that since 1995 the number of people on probation has grown by 35.2%, with an average annual increase of 2.5%. The increase from 2004 to 2005 was 0.5%, less than half the average growth rate. Between 1995 and 2005 the number of people on parole increased from 679,000 to 784,000; this is an increase of 15.4%, with an annual average increase of 1.4%.

PROBATION

Characteristics of Probationers

Glaze and Bonczar report that those released by the courts for probation are deemed to be the least dangerous among those arrested and the most likely to stay clear of the justice system in the future, even though only 59% of those on probation appeared to succeed in 2005. (See Table 8.1.) Whereas all people in prison serve sentences for felonies, only 50% of probationers were felons in 2005; 49% had been sentenced for misdemeanors and the remainder for other infractions. In 1995, 54% had felony sentences and 44% had misdemeanors.

According to Glaze and Bonczar, 76% of those entering probation in 2005 did so without any incarceration; 59% of those leaving probation had completed their probation successfullya far higher percentage than those leaving parole (45%). Among those leaving probation in 2005, whether or not they completed probation successfully, 16% returned to incarceration or were incarcerated for the first time. In contrast, 38% of those leaving parole were put behind bars again for failure to live up to the rules or committing a new offense. The single largest category of serious offense committed by probationers was a drug violation (28%), followed by driving while intoxicated (15%).

In comparing Glaze and Bonczar's data to that in Prisoners in 2005 (November 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p05.pdf) by Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck of the BJS, a larger proportion of probationers were female (23% versus 7% of state and federal prisoners) and white (55% versus 34.6% of those in prison) in 2005. A smaller proportion of probationers were African-American (30% of probationers versus 39.5% of prisoners) and Hispanic (13% of probationers versus 20.2% of prisoners).

Geographical Distribution

Glaze and Bonczar note that, nationally, 1,858 per 100,000 adults were under probation in 2005, but rates varied considerably from state to state and from region to region. In broad terms populations of probationers paralleled the general population with some differences. The South and Midwest had proportionally more probationers. In the South 2,067 per 100,000 adults were on probation, and in the Midwest the rate was 1,950 per 100,000. (See Table 8.2.) The West (1,546 per 100,000) and Northeast (1,658 per 100,000) had proportionately fewer probationers.

TABLE 8.1
Characteristics of adults on probation, 1995, 2000, and 2005
Characteristic 1995 2000 2005
   Total 100% 100% 100%
Gender
Male  79%  78%  77%
Female  21  22  23
Race/Hispanic origin
Whitea  53%  54%  55%
Blacka  31  31  30
Hispanic 14 13 13
American Indian/Alaska Nativea   1   1   1
Asian/Native Hawaiian/other
Pacific Islandera     1   1
Status of probation
Direct imposition  48%  56%  57%
Split sentence  15  11  10
Sentence suspended  26  25  22
Imposition suspended   6   7   9
Other   4   1   2
Status of supervision
Active  79%  76%  70%
Inactive   8   9   9
Absconder   9   9  10
Supervised out of state   2   3   2
Residential/other treatment program N/A N/A   1
Warrant status N/A N/A   6
Other   2   3   2
Type of offense
Felony  54%  52%  50%
Misdemeanor  44  46  49
Other infractions   2   2   1
Most serious offenseb
Sexual assault N/A N/A   3%
Domestic violence N/A N/A   6
Other assault N/A N/A  10
Burglary N/A N/A   5
Larceny/theft N/A N/A  12
Fraud N/A N/A   6
Drug law violations N/A  24  28
Driving while intoxicated  16  18  15
Minor traffic offenses N/A   6   5
Adults entering probation
Without incarceration  72%  79%  76%
With incarceration  13  16  18
Other types  15   5   6

Table 8.2 shows these data for all fifty states and the District of Columbia in 2005. Texas had the highest number of probationers of any state at the end of 2005 (430,312), followed by Georgia (422,848), California (388,260), Florida (277,831), and Ohio (239,036). Mississippi (17.1%), West Virginia (9.6%), Wyoming (9.2%), and Kentucky (8%) had the greatest increases in probationers in 2005. Rhode Island (3,091 per 100,000 population), Minnesota (2,988), Delaware (2,828), and Texas (2,580) had the highest rates of probationers to population. The states with the fewest probationers per 100,000 adult U.S. residents were New Hampshire (457), West Virginia (533), Utah (578), and Nevada (709).

TABLE 8.1
Characteristics of adults on probation, 1995, 2000, and 2005 [continued]
Characteristic 1995 2000 2005
Note: For every characteristic there were persons of unknown type. Detail may not sum to total because of rounding.
Less than 0.5%.
N/A Not available.
aExcludes persons of Hispanic origin.
bDoes not include all offenses; therefore, will not add to 100%.
cIn 1995 absconder and other unsuccessful statuses were reported among other.
Source: Lauren E. Glaze and Thomas P. Bonczar, "Table 3. Characteristics of Adults on Probation, 2005," in Probation and Parole in the United States, 2005, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ppus05.pdf (accessed January 24, 2007)
Adults leaving probation
Successful completions  62% 60% 59%
Incarceration  21 15 16
    With new sentence   5  3  4
    With the same sentence  13  8  7
Unknown   3  4  5
Absconderc N/A  3  3
Discharge to custody, detainer, or warrant N/A  1  1
Other unsuccessfulc N/A 11 13
Death   1  1  1
Other  16  9  7

Federal Probation Violations

The BJS reports in the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2004 (December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cfjs04.pdf) that probation can be a successful sentencing approach. In fiscal year (FY) 2004, 82.3% of federal probationers successfully completed the terms of their probation. (See Table 8.3.) Of the 15.9% who did violate probation, most had either committed a new crime (5.4% of all probationers) or used drugs (3.1%). Those convicted of violent, weapon, and immigration offenses were more likely to end probation by committing new crimes (8.8%, 8.5%, and 7.7%, respectively) than probationers convicted of property (4.6%) or drug (3.9%) offenses.

Probation Officers

Community corrections has a cost to the communityalthough it is lower than the cost of housing and feeding prisoners and providing them with health care. A major part of that cost is the employment of skilled probation officers to supervise probationers.

According to Ann L. Pastore and Kathleen Maguire of the Utilization of Criminal Justice Statistics Project, in the Source-book of Criminal Justice Statistics 2003 (2005, http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/), in 1975 the U.S. government employed 1,377 probation officers to supervise 64,261 federal probationers, a ratio of 1 officer per 47 probationers. (See Table 8.4.) By 2005, 4,585 officers supervised 112,931 probationers, yielding a ratio of almost 25 per officer. The federal government has been expending resources to lower the ratio of probationers to officers. Between 2000 and 2005 the number of probationers increased by 12%, whereas the number of officers increased by 15%.

TABLE 8.2
Adults on probation, by region and jurisdiction, 2005
Region and jurisdiction Probation population, 1/1/2005 2005 Probation population, 12/31/05 Percent change, 2005 Number on probation per 100,000 adult residents, 12/31/05
Entries Exits
    U.S. total 4,143,466 2,228,300 2,209,700 4,162,536  0.5% 1,858
Federal 28,602 12,135 14,402 26,719 6.6% 12
State 4,114,864 2,216,200 2,195,300 4,135,817  0.5 1,846
Northeast 702,328 277,800 285,700 694,396 1.1% 1,658
Connecticuta 54,067 28,250 26,245 56,072  3.7 2,092
Maine 8,907 4,890 5,677 8,120 8.8 776
Massachusettsa 163,719 84,343 82,697 165,365  1.0 3,350
New Hampshire 4,285 3,440 3,110 4,615    * 457
New Jersey 143,315 45,136 49,360 139,091 2.9 2,117
New York 124,853 34,644 40,472 119,025 4.7 810
Pennsylvaniaa, b 167,366 67,300 67,100 167,561  0.1 1,741
Rhode Islanda 26,085 5,410 5,882 25,613 1.8 3,091
Vermonta 9,731 4,341 5,138 8,934 8.2 1,820
Midwest 958,730 609,500 594,300 973,807  1.6% 1,950
Illinoisa 143,871 60,951 61,686 143,136 0.5 1,500
Indianaa 121,675 98,681 99,342 121,014 0.5 2,583
Iowa 22,408 15,829 14,833 23,404  4.4 1,018
Kansas 14,439 19,755 19,184 15,010  4.0 723
Michigana, b 176,630 130,200 128,300 178,609  1.1 2,350
Minnesota 113,121 70,752 66,800 117,073  3.5 2,988
Missouri 54,848 25,179 26,413 53,614 2.2 1,208
Nebraska 17,994 15,330 14,856 18,468  2.6 1,387
North Dakota 3,749 2,808 2,597 3,960  5.6 791
Ohioa, b 230,758 141,300 133,000 239,036  3.6 2,745
South Dakota 5,372 3,196 3,260 5,308 1.2 899
Wisconsin 53,865 25,505 24,195 55,175  2.4 1,298
South 1,667,198 908,800 894,600 1,681,455  0.9% 2,067
Alabamaa 36,799 14,039 11,843 38,995  6.0 1,121
Arkansas 28,771 8,435 6,958 30,248  5.1 1,431
Delaware 18,725 14,643 14,906 18,462 1.4 2,828
District of Columbiaa 7,585 7,216 7,414 7,387 2.6 1,696
Floridaa, b 278,606 240,000 240,800 277,831 0.3 2,002
Georgiaa, b, c 423,547 215,500 216,200 422,848    * *
Kentucky 32,619 20,800 18,300 35,230  8.0 1,100
Louisiana 38,231 13,772 13,695 38,308  0.2 1,133
Maryland 76,676 38,282 39,365 75,593 1.4 1,793
Mississippi 20,375 8,124 4,635 23,864 17.1 1,096
North Carolina 111,537 62,157 62,068 111,626  0.1 1,693
Oklahomaa, b 28,404 14,600 14,100 28,865  1.6 1,065
South Carolina 38,941 14,768 14,360 39,349  1.0 1,212
Tennessea, b 47,099 24,800 22,600 49,302  4.7 1,072
Texas 428,836 181,333 179,857 430,312  0.3 2,580
Virginiaa 43,470 27,078 24,959 45,589  4.9 788
West Virginiab 6,977 3,200 2,500 7,646  9.6 533
West 786,608 420,100 420,500 786,159 0.1% 1,546
Alaska 5,547 1,022 878 5,680  2.4 1,182
Arizonaa, b 70,532 39,700 39,100 71,138  0.9 1,606
Californiaa 384,852 195,343 191,935 388,260  0.9 1,462
Coloradoa, b 57,779 29,900 31,000 56,623 2.0 1,613
Hawaiid 16,113 6,236 5,524 16,825  4.4 1,693
Idahoa, e 44,579 35,717 36,584 43,712 * *

SUPERVISED RELEASE

The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 created an alternative to parole and probation for federal offenderssupervised releasewhich occurs after an offender's term of imprisonment is completed. Following his or her release, an offender is sentenced to a period of supervision in the community. The act calls for supervised release to follow any term of imprisonment that exceeds one year or if required by a specific statute. The court may also order supervised release to follow imprisonment in any other case. Offenders on supervised release are supervised by probation officers. The BJS notes in the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2004 that in FY 2004, 77,332 (or 70%) of federal offenders under community supervision were serving a term of supervised release. Most offenders sentenced to supervised release (41,681, or 54%) were convicted for drug offenses. Only 4,805 (or 6%) had been convicted of violent offenses.

TABLE 8.2
Adults on probation, by region and jurisdiction, 2005 [continued]
Region and jurisdiction Probation population, 1/1/2005 2005 Probation population, 12/31/05 Percent change, 2005 Number on probation per 100,000 adult residents, 12/31/05
Entries Exits
Note: Because of nonresponse or incomplete data, the probation population for some jurisdictions on December 31, 2005, does not equal the population on January 1, plus entries, minus exits.
*Not calculated.
aSome oral data are estimated.
bData for entries and exits were estimated for nonreporting agencies.
cCounts include private agency cases and may overstate the number under supervision.
dDue to a change in the state agency's record keeping procedures, data are not comparable to previous reports.
eCounts include estimates for misdemeanors based on admissions.
Source: Lauren E. Glaze and Thomas P. Bonczar, "Table 2. Adults on Probation, 2005," in Probation and Parole in the United States, 2005, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ppus05.pdf (accessed January 24, 2007)
Montanaa, b 7,634 4,500 3,900 8,233 7.8 1,121
Nevada 12,645 6,305 6,019 12,931 2.3 709
New Mexicoa, b 17,725 8,500 7,500 18,706 5.5 1,287
Oregon 43,324 17,852 16,323 44,853 3.5 1,597
Utah 10,267 5,312 5,500 10,079 1.8 578
Washingtona, b, d 111,193 66,900 73,800 104,293 6.2 2,155
Wyoming 4,418 2,828 2,420 4,826 9.2 1,216

Table 8.5 shows that in FY 2004, 32,930 offenders terminated their supervised release. Most (62.1%) had not violated the terms of their release and successfully completed their sentence. Some 13.7% had violated their supervised release by committing a new crime and 7.2% had used drugs.

In the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2004, the BJS reports that in FY 2004 men were more likely to violate the terms of their supervised release than women; only 60% of men successfully completed their supervised release, compared with 74% of women. Of those sentenced to supervised release, the youngest (nineteen- and twenty-year-olds) and the least educated (less than high school) were the most likely to violate the terms of their sentence.

PAROLE

Trends in Parole

Discretionary parole is administered by parole boards. Their members examine prisoners' criminal histories and prison records and decide whether to release prisoners from incarceration. Since the mid-1990s several states have abolished discretionary parole in favor of mandatory parole. Mandatory parole is legislatively imposed at the state level and, with some exceptions, takes away parole boards' discretion. Mandatory parole provisions ensure that sentences for the same crime require incarceration for the same length of time. The prisoner can shorten his or her sentence only by good behaviorbut time off for good behavior is also prohibited in some states. In some jurisdictions parole can only begin after prisoners have served 100% of their minimum sentences. Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence of the Urban Institute report in Beyond the Prison Gates: The State of Parole in America (November 2002, http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/310583_Beyond_prison_gates.pdf) that the share of discretionary prison releases decreased from 65% in 1976 to 24% by 1999.

Travis and Lawrence indicate that even though states rely more and more on mandatory release dates to decide when to release prisoners, states have different prison release methods. Some states have cut back on parole supervision, releasing more prisoners directly to the community. Other states have aggressively enforced the conditions of parole, leading to the identification of more parole violations. In these states more parolees are being sent back to prison. States handle different types of offenses differently. Some allow victims or prosecutors to participate in release decisions; others do not. Many states still rely heavily on parole boards to make release decisions, whereas others no longer use parole boards and have mandatory release policies for all their prisoners.

According to Travis and Lawrence, most parole agencies now use drug testing to determine whether a parolee has kept his or her promise to remain drug free. In a number of states parole officers are being permitted to carry weapons. Furthermore, parolees in several jurisdictions are required to wear electronic bracelets so that officials can monitor their movement.

Glaze and Bonczar note that in 1995, 50% of adults who entered parole did so under discretionary parole; by 2005 discretionary paroles made up only 31% of the total. In 1995 mandatory parole accounted for 45% of all paroles; by 2005, 51% of those paroled were under a mandatory parole.

TABLE 8.3
Outcomes of probation supervision, by offense, October 1, 2003September 30, 2004
Most serious offense of conviction Number of probation terminations Percent of probation supervisions terminating with
No violation Technical violationsa New crimeb Administrative case closures
Drug use Fugitive status Other
    All offenses 15,721  82.3%  3.1% 2.2%  5.2%  5.4%  1.8%
Felonies 8,251  84.9%  2.8% 1.7%  4.4%  4.5%  1.7%
Violent offenses 171  69.6%  1.8% 5.8% 11.7%  8.8%  2.3%
    Murderc 10             
    Assault 48  64.6  4.2 8.3 16.7  6.3  0.0
    Robbery 63  79.4  0.0 1.6  3.2 11.1  4.8
    Sexual abusec 41  53.7  2.4 7.3 24.4  9.8  2.4
    Kidnapping 4             
    Threats against the President 5             
Property offenses 4,461  84.9%  2.6% 1.8%  4.2%  4.6%  1.8%
    Fraudulent 3,634  86.3%  2.1% 1.8 %  3.7%  4.4%  1.6%
        Embezzlement 346  93.4  0.9 0.9  2.9  1.7  0.3
        Fraudc 2,759  87.6  1.8 1.3  3.2  4.2  1.8
        Forgery 76  73.7  5.3 5.3  5.3  9.2  1.3
        Counterfeiting 453  74.6  4.6 5.3  7.3  6.6  1.5
    Other 827  79.1%  4.8% 1.8%  6.2%  5.3%  2.8%
        Burglary 23  56.5 13.0 0.0 21.7  8.7  0.0
        Larcenyc 676  77.8  5.3 1.9  6.2  5.9  2.8
        Motor vehicle theft 41  87.8  2.4 2.4  7.3  0.0  0.0
        Arson and explosives 24  87.5  0.0 0.0  0.0  0.0 12.5
        Transportation of stolen property 49  95.9  0.0 0.0  2.0  0.0  2.0
        Other property offensesc 14  78.6  0.0 7.1  0.0 14.3  0.0
Drug offenses 1,418  85.0%  3.9% 1.5%  4.7%  3.9%  0.9%
    Trafficking 1,284  85.3  3.4 1.6  4.8  4.1  0.8
    Possession and other drug offenses 134  82.8  9.0 0.0  3.7  2.2  2.2
Public-order offenses 1,431  89.9%  1.5% 1.0%  3.4%  2.4%  1.9%
    Regulatory 604  88.7%  2.6% 1.7%  3.8%  2.0%  1.2%
        Agriculture 1             
        Antitrust 11 100.0  0.0 0.0  0.0  0.0  0.0
        Food and drug 32  87.5  3.1 0.0  3.1  3.1  3.1
        Transportation 26  88.5  3.8 3.8  0.0  3.8  0.0
        Civil rights 8             
        Communications 37  97.3  0.0 0.0  2.7  0.0  0.0
        Custom laws 27  81.5  0.0 3.7 14.8  0.0  0.0
        Postal laws 46  82.6  4.3 2.2  4.3  2.2  4.3
        Other regulatory offenses 416  88.7  2.9 1.7  3.6  2.2  1.0
    Other 827  90.8%  0.6% 0.5%  3.0%  2.7%  2.4%
        Tax law violationsc 270  94.1  0.0 0.0  1.1  2.2  2.6
        Bribery 79  97.5  0.0 0.0  1.3  0.0  1.3
        Perjury, contempt, and intimidation 60  86.7  1.7 1.7  5.0  1.7  3.3
        National defense 3             
        Escape 27  92.6  0.0 0.0  3.7  0.0  3.7
        Racketeering and extortion 158  93.0  0.6 0.0  2.5  0.6  3.2
        Gambling 35  97.1  0.0 0.0  0.0  2.9  0.0
        Nonviolent sex offenses 60  81.7  1.7 0.0  1.7 10.0  5.0
        Obscene materialc 10             
        Wildlife 21  85.7  0.0 4.8  0.0  9.5  0.0
        Environmental 12  91.7  0.0 0.0  0.0  0.0  8.3
        All other offenses 92  78.3  2.2 2.2 13.0  4.3  0.0
Weapon offenses 390  76.2%  5.4% 1.0%  6.7%  8.5%  2.3%
Immigration offenses 323  84.8%  2.2% 2.2%  1.9%  7.7%  1.2%

Characteristics of Parolees

According to Glaze and Bonczar, there were 784,408 federal and state parolees in the United States in 2005. (See Table 8.6.) Most (693,197) were paroled under state jurisdiction, whereas 91,211 had been paroled under federal jurisdiction. The number of state parolees grew by 1.6% from 2004 to 2005, which was higher than the average annual increase of 1.4% since 1995. The number of parolees has increased by 104,987, or 15.4%, since 1995.

In 2005, 12% of parolees were women; this percentage had not changed since 2000, but it had increased from 1995, when 10% of parolees were women. (See Table 8.7.) In 1995, 34% of parolees were white, 45% were African-American, and 21% were Hispanic. Ten years later the proportion of whites had grown substantially, and a higher proportion of parolees were white (41%) in 2005 than black (40%) or Hispanic (18%). Only 1% of parolees were Native American or Alaskan Native, and another 1% were Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native Hawaiian. In general, the gender and racial/ethnic distribution of parolees more closely matched that of the prison population than that of people on probation.

Table 8.7 also shows that 83% of parolees were under the active supervision of parole officers in 2005. Of parolees leaving parole, only 45% had successfully completed the terms of their parole. As a group, parolees are more serious offenders than probationers, given that 94% have been sentenced to one year or more of prison for felonies.

TABLE 8.3
Outcomes of probation supervision, by offense, October 1, 2003September 30, 2004 [continued]
Most serious offense of conviction Number of probation terminations Percent of probation supervisions terminating with
No violation Technical violationsa New crimeb Administrative case closures
Drug use Fugitive status Other
Note: Offenses for 57 felony offenders could not be classified.
Too few cases to obtain statistically reliable data.
aSupervision terminated with incarceration or removal to inactive status for violation of supervision conditions other than charges for new offenses.
bSupervision terminated with incarceration or removal to inactive status after arrest for a "major" or "minor" offense.
cIn this table "murder" includes nonnegligent manslaughter; "sexual abuse" includes only violent sex offenses; "fraud" excludes tax fraud; "larceny" excludes transportation of stolen property; "other property offenses" excludes fraudulent property offenses and includes destruction of property and trespassing; "tax law violations" includes tax fraud; "obscene material" denotes the mail or transport thereof; "misdemeanors" includes misdemeanors, petty offenses, and unknown offense levels; and "drug possession" also includes other drug misdemeanors.
Source: "Table 7.3. Outcomes of Probation Supervision, by Offense, October 1, 2003September 30, 2004," in Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2004, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2006, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cfjs0407.pdf (accessed January 24, 2007)
Misdemeanorsc 7,470 79.4% 3.4% 2.8% 6.0%  6.4% 1.9%
Fraudulent property offense 537 90.7 1.1 2.0 2.2  2.8 1.1
Larceny 717 79.5 3.1 3.3 6.4  6.8 0.8
Drug possessionc 1,446 75.2 7.6 2.6 6.5  6.3 1.8
Immigration misdemeanors 949 73.8 3.0 4.0 4.7 14.2 0.3
Traffic offenses 2,039 81.4 2.3 2.5 6.0  5.0 2.9
Other misdemeanors 1,782 80.1 2.4 2.6 7.4  5.1 2.5
TABLE 8.4
Persons under the supervision of the federal probation system and number of authorized probation officers, 19752005
Number of persons under supervision Number of probation officers
*Approximate.
Source: Ann L. Pastore and Kathleen Maguire, editors, "Table 6.7.2005. Persons under Supervision of the Federal Probation System and Authorized Probation Officers," in Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 2003, 31st ed., U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005, http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t672005.pdf (accessed February 16, 2007)
1975 64,261 1,377
1976 64,246 1,452
1977 64,427 1,578
1978 66,681 1,604
1979 66,087 1,604
1980 64,450 1,604
1981 59,016 1,534
1982 58,373 1,637
1983 60,180 1,574
1984 63,092 1,690
1985 65,999 1,758
1986 69,656 1,847
1987 73,432 1,879
1988 76,366 2,046
1989 77,284 2,146
1990 80,592 2,361
1991 83,012 2,802
1992 85,920 3,316
1993 86,823 3,516*
1994 89,103    NA
1995 85,822    NA
1996 88,966 3,473
1997 91,434 3,603
1998 93,737 3,842
1999 97,190 3,913
2000 100,395 3,981
2001 104,715 4,345
2002 108,792 4,476
2003 111,281 4,560
2004 112,643 4,490
2005 112,931 4,585

Parole Geography

Glaze and Bonczar report that at the end of 2005 California had the largest number of parolees (111,743), and Maine had the smallest number (32). (See Table 8.6.) The District of Columbia had the highest number (1,214) of parolees per 100,000 adult residents, followed by Pennsylvania (787), Arkansas (782), and Oregon (766). The U.S. average was 350 per 100,000 population; this figure includes people on parole under federal jurisdiction. Besides California, Texas (101,916) and Pennsylvania (75,732) had the largest numbers of parolees. The number of parolees increased significantly in several states, including Arkansas (22.7%), North Dakota (16.7%), West Virginia (16.4%), and New Mexico (16.1%). The parole populations decreased in several states, including Nebraska (16.7%), Hawaii (7.7%), and Massachusetts (7.1%). Overall, the West had the greatest increase in parolees (3.2%) in 2005, whereas the Northeast had a decline of 1.4%.

Parole Violation and Rearrest Trends

The overall success rate for parolees has remained fairly stable for several years. As shown in Table 8.7, 45% of individuals on parole completed their sentences successfully in both 1995 and 2005.

In the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2004, the BJS notes that the success rate for federal parolees was higher than the national average. In FY 2004, 49.3% of federal parolees completed their sentences successfully. The success rate for those who had committed violent offenses was 36.6%, whereas for those who had committed property offenses it was 55.1%. More than half (60.4%) of drug offenders successfully completed their parole sentences.

TABLE 8.5
Outcomes of supervised release, by offense, October 1, 2003September 30, 2004
Most serious offense of conviction Number of supervised release terminations Percent of supervised releases terminating with
No violation Technical violationsa New crimeb Administrative case closures
Drug use Fugitive status Other
    All offenses 32,930  62.1%  7.2%  5.5%  9.5% 13.7%  1.9%
Felonies 32,284  62.0%  7.2%  5.5%  9.5% 13.8%  1.9%
Violent offenses 2,486  42.8% 10.1% 10.0% 16.5% 18.2%  2.5%
    Murderc 121  46.3  4.1 10.7 25.6 10.7  2.5
    Negligent manslaughter 4            
    Assault 319  43.9  5.3 11.0 21.0 17.9  0.9
    Robbery 1,802  42.5 12.0  9.7 14.2 19.0  2.7
    Sexual abusec 189  40.2  5.3 13.2 24.9 14.3  2.1
    Kidnapping 35  57.1  2.9  2.9 11.4 20.0  5.7
    Threats against the President 16  25.0  0.0  0.0 18.8 37.5 18.8
Property offenses 7,462  67.7%  4.9%  5.2%  9.5% 11.0%  1.7%
    Fraudulent 6,171  70.8%  4.1%  4.3%  8.8% 10.4%  1.6%
        Embezzlement 667  85.2  1.3  2.1  5.1  5.4  0.9
        Fraudc 4,669  72.5  3.3  3.7