DOJ report finds probation rates lowest in 2 decades

  • Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Annual Probation Survey and Annual Parole Survey, 2008-2018.

A recent annual report from the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the adult community-supervision and probation rates in 2018 were the lowest they have been since 1990 – and lowest in population since 1998.

Probation and parole rates have been steadily falling over the last decade in the United States among the adult population, declining by 25% since 2008, according to the report.

Adult community supervision is defined as those in the adult population on either probation or parole.

The probation population in the United States, as of 2018, outnumbered the parole population by four to one with 3.54 million American adults on probation compared to just 878,000 on parole.

The United States saw a 3% reduction in adults under community supervision from 2017 to 2018, from 1784 to 1726 offenders per 100,000 adult residents. This was down from 2,202 offenders per 100,000 adult residents in 2008.

Larger declines have been noted in probation populations versus parole populations, with a 4% reduction from 2017 to 2018 probation rates and only 0.6% for parole rates.

While both probation and parole rates fell over the last decade, the majority of that reduction was seen in probation rates from 1,847 offenders per 100,000 residents to 1,389 resulting in a reduction from one in 54 adults on probation to just one in 72.

While overall parole population numbers were down from 2017 to 2018, it was the first year in which the number of offenders entering parole increased, from 442,000 in 2017 to 447,200 in 2018. The number of exits from the system outpaced this increase, resulting in an overall decrease in the net change.

The community-supervision population in Oklahoma as of January 1, 2018 was reported as 43,800. This was up by 3.2% from 42,400 in 2017. Oklahoma saw 11,700 entrants and 12,200 exits from community-supervision programs in 2018, resulting in a decrease of roughly 500, or 4.3%.

The vast majority of those in Oklahoma under supervision were on probation, with a parolee population of just 1,781 at the beginning of 2018.

This population was down from 1,895 in 2017. With 395 entrants and 396 exits, that population fell by just one in net change over 2018.

Of the exits, 366 completed their terms while 27 died on parole, with four additional parolees listed as “other” for reason of exit from the system.

For adults on parole nationally, the percentage of offenses for violent crimes rose from 26% to 31% from 2008 to 2018, while those on parole for drug related offenses fell from 37% down to 30%. The percentage of males to females on parole stood at 87% to 13% in 2018.