Thursday, March 23, 2006

More Texans on probation than any other state

The handout (pdf) on the Texas probation system TDCJ's Bonita White gave to the House Corrections Committee yesterday has been posted online, and it contained this interesting statistic: Texas has the largest probation population in the United States - much bigger than California whose population is 60 percent larger.

States with most people on probation

2005 probationers

2004 population
















No wonder caseloads are too high and probation officers have no time to supervise offenders. Texas has so many more people on probation because probation terms are too long. Typical felony probation lasts for ten years in Texas, but most who re-offend do so in the first 2-3 years. That's why shorter probation would strengthen community supervision, letting probationers earn their way "off paper" through good behavior while probation officers focus resources on those most likely to pose a threat.

In the scheme of things, these numbers actually mean most Texas probationers are pretty well behaved. In 2005, 24,030 or about 5.6 percent of Texas felony probationers had their probation revoked and were sent to prison, according to the handout. Officials estimate that stronger probation using evidence-based practices could reduce revocations by 10-30 percent.

CORRECTION: A gentleman from the state prosecutors' association emails to say:
Scott, I think you erred in saying "24,030 or about 5.6 percent of Texas FELONY probationers had their probation revoked and were sent to prison ...." The probation population of 429,857 includes felons AND misdemeanants -- so 24,030 revocations to prison is 5.6% of ALL probationers, not felony probationers.

I don't know the # of felons vs. misdemeanants, but I'm guessing it's no better than a 50/50 split (and probably more misdemeanants b/c there are more misdemeanor cases), so the real figure is probably more like 10-15% of felony probationers get revoked each year.
Good catch - I appreciate him setting the record straight.


Anonymous said...

The last I knew, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate in terms of %. Texas next. California had a slightly larger number of prisoners than TX, but a lower rate of incarceration. Correct me if I'm wrong

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I think that's right, Charles. On the number of people on probation, though, we're far ahead of the pack.

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