BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Reentry Trends in the U.S.

Growth in state prison and parole population

From 1990 to 2002, the state parole population grew at a slower rate than the state prison population

Since 1990, the state prison population nearly doubled, increasing from 708,393 in 1990 to 1,277,127 at yearend 2002. The rate of growth in the prison population slowed between 1999 and 2001, due in part to a rise in the number of releases from prison (592,000 in 2001). Relative to the prison population, the growth in the state parole population was much more modest, increasing from 502,134 in 1990 to 670,169 by 2002. However, the state parole and prison populations each grew 2.4% during 2002, the largest annual growth rate for each group since 1992 and 1999 respectively.

To view data, click on the chart.

State parole population and entries to State parole, 1980-2000 [D]

  • At least 95% of all state prisoners will be released from prison at some point; nearly 80% will be released to parole supervision.

  • On average, from 1990 to 2001 the prison population increased 5.3% per year, while the state parole population rose 2.4% per year. However, since 1999 the rate of growth in state prisons has nearly stabilized.

  • The low rate of growth in parole supervision relative to the growth in the prison population reflects changes in sentencing and parole release policies that have resulted in increasing lengths of stay in prison and declining prison release rates.

  • 1,277,127 adults were under the jurisdiction of state correctional authorities at yearend 2002, up from 708,393 at yearend 1990.

  • 670,169 adults were under state parole supervision at yearend 2002, up from 502,134 in 1990.

BJS Sources:
Prisoners 2002, July 2003
Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2002, April, 2003
Probation and Parole in the United States, 2002, August, 2003
Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000, October, 2001.


Related information

From BJS

Topical pages

From the Office of Justice Programs

Serious and violent offender reentry initiative


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