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Probation and Parole in the United States, 2002

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2003 Contact: Stu Smith


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The nation's correctional population reached a record of more than 6.7 million adult men and women by the end of 2002, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. As of last December 31 about 3.1 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 32 adults, were in prisons or jails or in the community under correctional supervision, compared to 2.7 percent of the population in 1995.

The following chart shows adults under federal, state or local correctional authority in the community, on probation or parole, or incarcerated in jail or prison in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2002:

    In the community Incarcerated
Year Total Probation Parole Jail    Prison  
1995 5,342,900 3,077,861 679,421 507,044 1,078,542
2000 6,445,100 3,826,209 723,898 621,149 1,316,333
2001 6,581,700 3,931,731 732,333 631,240 1,330,007
2002 6,732,400 3,995,165 753,141 665,475 1,367,856

During 2002 the probation population grew by 63,434 adults, or 1.6 percent, which was about half the average annual growth of 3.1 percent since 1995. Probation is a period of supervision in the community following a conviction. The parole population increased by 20,808 adults, or 2.8 percent, almost double the 1.5 percent average annual growth since 1995. Parole is a period of supervised release following a prison term. By the end of last year the combined parole and probation populations had reached a record 4,748,306 men and women, which was 71 percent of all persons under federal, state and local correctional supervision.

Thirty-five states experienced an increase in their probation population during 2002. Ohio had the largest increase (16,024 additional probationers), followed by Washington State (7,487) and California (7,353). Thirteen states reported a probation population decrease, led by Idaho (down 12 percent) and Nebraska (down 8 percent).

About 75 percent of probationers were under active supervision and were required to regularly report to a probation authority in person, by mail or by telephone. Half of all probationers had been convicted of a felony, 49 percent of a misdemeanor and 1 percent of other infractions. Twenty-four percent had been convicted of a drug law violation and 17 percent for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.

Of the more than 2 million probationers discharged from supervision, 62 percent successfully completed the terms of their supervision, 14 percent were reincarcerated because of a rule violation or a new offense, 13 percent had their probation sentence revoked without incarceration and 3 percent had absconded.

As of last December 31, about 1 in 5 probationers were women. More than half were white, 1 in 3 were black, 1 in 8 were Hispanic and 2 percent were of other races.

At the end of last year four states had an increase of 20 percent or more in their parole population, led by North Dakota (27 percent), New Mexico (26 percent), Kentucky (23 percent) and Oklahoma (21 percent). Among those states with 100 or more parolees, 17 reported a decrease in their parole population, led by South Carolina (down 14 percent) and Florida (13 percent).

Nearly 448,000 parolees were discharged from supervision during 2002. Forty-five percent had successfully met the conditions of their supervision and 41 percent had been returned to incarceration for violating a rule or committing a new offense. About 9 percent had absconded and 2 percent had failed to meet their parole conditions but were discharged without incarceration.

Among parolees at the end of last year, more than 1 in 7 were women, 42 percent were black, 39 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic and 1 percent were of other races.

The bulletin, "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2002" (NCJ-201135), was written by BJS Statistician Lauren E. Glaze. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-851-3420. After release, this document can be accessed at:


For additional information about Bureau of Justice Statistics statistical reports programs, please see the BJS website at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/

BJS media calls should be directed to Stu Smith in OJP's Office of Communications at or 202-307-0784. After hours: 301-983-9354.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises 5 component bureaus and 2 offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Executive Office for Weed and Seed, and the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education. Information about OJP programs, publications, and conferences is available on the OJP Web site, www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

Date Published: August 20, 2003