BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Home  |  Reentry Trends in the U.S.
Reentry Trends in the U.S.

Characteristics of releases

Persons entering State parole in 1999 were older than those who entered parole in 1990 (31 to 34 years) while the racial and ethnic composition of entries was unchanged

Demographic characteristics of State parole entries

  • The racial and ethnic distributions of persons entering parole remained nearly stable from 1990 to 1999. In 1999, 35% of parole entries were white, 47% were black, and 16% were Hispanic.

  • In 1999, 10% of entries to State parole were female, up from 8% in 1990.

  • The average age of prisoners released to parole increased from 31 years in 1990 to 34 years in 1999. In 1999, an estimated 109,300 State prisoners age 40 or older were paroled - 26% of all entries to parole.

Demographic characteristics of State parole entries, 1990 and 1999
Percent of entries
Characteristics 1990 1999  

  Male 92.1 % 90.1 %
  Female 7.9   9.9  
Race/Hispanic origin        
  White non-Hispanic 34.2 % 35.4 %
  Black non-Hispanic 48.8   47.3  
  Hispanic 16.3   16.1  
  Other 0.7   1.2  
Age at prison release        
  17 or younger 0.2 % 0.1 %
  18-24 23.4   16.3  
  25-29 26.6   19.0  
  30-34 22.2   19.7  
  35-39 13.9   19.2  
  40-44 7.3   13.5  
  45-54 4.9   10.2  
  55 or older 1.5   2.1  
  Mean age 31 yrs 34 yrs

Note: Based on prisoners with a sentence or more than 1 year who were released from State prison. Data are from the National Corrections Reporting Program.

  • Among discretionary and mandatory parole releases from State prison in 1999, black non-Hispanic offenders served longer in prison than white non-Hispanics or Hispanics. Overall, black non-Hispanic offenders released by discretionary parole in 1999 served 37 months in prison; white non-Hispanics served 34 months; and Hispanics 33 months. Black offenders released by mandatory parole served 7 months longer than whites (38 months compared to 31 months). Hispanics served 30 months.

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Background characteristics of prisoners expected to be released

Among State prisoners expected to be released to the community by yearend 1999:

  • 56% had one or more prior incarcerations and 25% had 3 or more prior incarcerations.

  • 84% reported being involved in drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense which led to their incarceration.

  • Nearly 25% were determined to be alcohol dependent.

  • 21% had committed the offense to obtain money for drugs.

  • 14% were determined to be mentally ill.

  • 12% reported being homeless at the time of the arrest.

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Demographic characteristics of successful State parolees

  • Between 1990 and 1999, the success rates among State parole discharges increased from 33% to 39% among blacks and increased from 31% to 51% among Hispanics, but dropped from 44% to 41% among whites.

  • Among discharges from State parole in 1999, 39% of males successfully completed parole supervision compared to 48% of females.

  • Success rates were higher among discharges that were age 55 or older (54%) than among those who were under age 25 (36%).

  • Accounting for 2.1% of discharges in 1999, parolees age 55 or older had the highest rate of successful completion (55%).
Discharge refers to individuals exiting parole supervision.

Successful discharges include persons who have completed the term of conditional supervision.

Unsuccessful discharges include revocations of parole, returns to prison or jail, and absconders. Parolees who are transferred to other jurisdictions and those who die while under supervision are not included in the calculation of success/failure rates.

BJS Sources:
Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000, October, 2001.
"State and Federal prisoners returning to the community: Findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics" (PDF file, 30K), by Allen J. Beck, presented at the First Reentry Courts Initiative Cluster Meeting, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2000.

Related information

From BJS

Topical pages

National, State, and Federal correctional data in spreadsheets

From the Office of Justice Programs

Serious and violent offender reentry initiative

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