BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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Home  | Terms & Definitions: Corrections | Community Corrections (Probation and Parole)
Terms & Definitions: Community Corrections (Probation and Parole)

Community corrections
The supervision of criminal offenders in the resident population, as opposed to confining offenders in secure correctional facilities. The two main types of community corrections supervision are probation and parole. Community corrections is also referred to as community supervision.

Custody
To have custody of a prisoner, a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) must physically hold that person in one of its facilities. A locality, state, or the BOP may hold inmates over whom a different government maintains jurisdiction.

Movement
In corrections, a movement refers to an admission or a release from a status, such as prisoner, parolee, or probationer. Unless specifically noted, a transfer between facilities does not count as a movement.

Parole
Parole refers to criminal offenders who are conditionally released from prison to serve the remaining portion of their sentence in the community. Prisoners may be released to parole by a parole board decision (discretionary release/discretionary parole), according to provisions of a statute (mandatory release/mandatory parole), through other types of post-custody conditional supervision, or as the result of a sentence to a term of supervised release. In the federal system, a term of supervised release is a sentence to a fixed period of supervision in the community that follows a sentence to a period of incarceration in federal prison, both of which are ordered at the time of sentencing by a federal judge. Parolees can have a number of different supervision statuses, including active supervision, which means they are required to regularly report to a parole authority in person, by mail, or by telephone. Some parolees may be on an inactive status, which means they are excluded from regularly reporting, and that could be due to a number of reasons. For instance, some may receive a reduction in supervision, possibly due to compliance or meeting all required conditions before the parole sentence terminates, and therefore may be moved from an active to inactive status. Other supervision statues include parolees who only have financial conditions remaining, have absconded, or who have active warrants. Parolees are also typically required to fulfill certain conditions and adhere to specific rules of conduct while in the community. Failure to comply with any of the conditions can result in a return to incarceration.

Probation
Probation refers to adult offenders whom courts place on supervision in the community through a probation agency, generally in lieu of incarceration. However, some jurisdictions do sentence probationers to a combined short-term incarceration sentence immediately followed by probation, which is referred to as a split sentence. Probationers can have a number of different supervision statuses, including active supervision, which means they are required to regularly report to a probation authority in person, by mail, or by telephone. Some probationers may be on an inactive status, which means they are excluded from regularly reporting, and that could be due to a number of reasons. For instance, some probationers may be placed on inactive status immediately because the severity of the offense was minimal or some may receive a reduction in supervision and therefore may be moved from an active to inactive status. Other supervision statuses include probationers who only have financial conditions remaining, have absconded, or who have active warrants. In many instances, while on probation, offenders are required to fulfill certain conditions of their supervision (e.g., payment of fines, fees or court costs, participation in treatment programs) and adhere to specific rules of conduct while in the community. Failure to comply with any conditions can result in incarceration.

Total correctional population
Total correctional population is the population of persons incarcerated, either in a prison or a jail, and persons supervised in the community, either on probation or parole.


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