On April 26, 2018, the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) issued a press release titled U.S. Correctional Population Declined for the Ninth Consecutive Year. BJS estimated 6,613,500 persons were under the supervision of U.S. adult correctional systems on December 31, 2016, representing a 0.9% population decrease from January 1, 2016. BJS defines the adult correctional population to include “persons held in prisons and jails and persons on probation and parole.” Here are the highlights from the press release:
From 2007 to 2016, the proportion of the adult population under the supervision of U.S. correctional authorities decreased by 18 percent, from 3,210 to 2,640 adults under correctional supervision per 100,000 residents. The number of adults under correctional supervision per 100,000 U.S. adult residents was lower in 2016 (2,640) than at any time since 1993 (2,550). Overall, about 1 in 38 adults were under some form of correctional supervision at year-end 2016.
An estimated 6,613,500 persons were under correctional supervision on December 31, 2016, about 62,700 fewer persons than on January 1. The total correctional population declined 0.9 percent during 2016 due to decreases in both the community supervision population (down 1.1 percent) and the incarcerated population (down 0.5 percent).
The incarcerated population decreased from 2,172,800 in 2015 to 2,162,400 in 2016. All of the decrease in the incarcerated population was due to a decline in the prison population (down 21,200), while the jail population remained relatively stable. The number of persons held in prison or local jail per 100,000 U.S. adult residents (incarceration rate) has declined since 2009 and is currently at its lowest rate (860 per 100,000 in 2016) since 1996 (830 per 100,000).
During 2016, the community supervision population fell from 4,586,900 on January 1 to 4,537,100 at year-end. All of the decrease in the community supervision population in 2016 was due to a decline in the probation population (down 52,500). The parole population increased 0.5 percent in 2016 (up 4,300 persons). More than two-thirds (69 percent) of the correctional population were supervised in the community at year-end 2016, similar to the percentage observed in 2007.
These findings are contained in two BJS publications: Corrrectional Populations in the United States, 2016 and Probation and Parole in the United States, 2016. The Training Division provides training events, program materials and videos, criminal defense topics, and litigation support to assist attorneys appointed under the Criminal Justice Act at www.fd.org.