- Adult correctional authorities supervised about 6,977,700 offenders at yearend 2011, a decrease of
1.4% during the year. [Ed note: That's mostly due to declines in probation and parole caseloads.]
- The decline of 98,900 offenders during 2011 marked the third consecutive year of decrease in the correctional population, which includes probationers, parolees, local jail inmates, and prisoners in the custody of state and federal facilities.
- About 2.9% of adults in the U.S. (or 1 in every 34 adults) were under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2011, a rate comparable to 1998 (1 in every 34).
- The number of adults under community supervision declined by about 71,300 during 2011, down to 4,814,200 at yearend.
- A 2% decline in the probation population along with a 1.6% increase in the parole population accounted for the overall change in the community supervision population.
- At yearend 2011, for the first time since 2002, the U.S. probation population fell below 4 million.
- The rate of incarceration among probationers at risk for violating their conditions of supervision in 2011 (5.5%) was consistent with the rate in 2000 (5.5%).
- Among parolees at risk for violating their conditions of supervision, about 12% were reincarcerated during 2011, down from more than 15% in 2006.
During 2011, less than half (43%) of the decrease in the incarcerated population (down 30,400 inmates) was attributed to the decline in the local jail population (down 13,100). In comparison, more than half (57%) of the decrease in the incarcerated population was due to the decline in the number of persons in the custody of state and federal prisons (down 17,300).3 All of the decrease in the total prison population was due to the decline in the number of prisoners held in the custody of state facilities (down 25,100 prisoners or 1.9%),including privately operated facilities under state authority (appendix table 1).Despite the slight decline in prisoner number witnessed in the last three years, however, nationwide America incarcerated 13.1% more people in 2011 (more than 174,000, overall) than it did in 2001, according to the BJS.
The increase in the number of prisoners held in the custody of federal facilities (up 7,800 or 3.8%) partially offset the decline in the total prison population during the year. The growth in the federal prison population during 2011 was lead by an increase in the number of federal prisoners held in privately operated facilities under federal authority (up 4,600 or 18.2%).
Texas' state data won't surprise regular Grits readers. Probation rolls declined by 10,000 last year due to a combination of declining crime and expanded use of early release provisions from Texas' 2007 probation reforms. Meanwhile, a slight uptick in parole rates increased the number of parolees by about 1,800 compared to 2010.
These are tentatively positive trends toward deincarceration, but really mere baby steps compared to the true scope of US overincarceration. Still, as my father like to say, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.