The National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) Program produces annual national- and state-level data on the number of prisoners in state and federal prison facilities. Findings are released in the Prisoners series and the Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool (CSAT) - Prisoners.
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. Probations 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.
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 either by a parole board decision (discretionary release/discretionary parole) or according to provisions of a statute (mandatory release/mandatory parole). This definition of parole is not restricted to only prisoners who are released through a parole board decision, but also includes prisoners who are released based on provisions of a statute. 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.
Find a report on the most recent probation and parole counts at Probation and Parole in the United States.
In 2021, 11 inmates were executed in the United States. The Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) Capital Punishment reports present characteristics of persons under sentence of death and persons executed, and summarize the movement of prisoners into and out of death sentence status. See Prisoners executed under civil authority in the United States, by year, region, and jurisdiction for additional data on executions.
As with any specialized field, criminal justice has specific terms to convey specific ideas. Persons under correctional supervision are those on probation or parole or held in prison or jail. This definition casts the widest net when seeking the number under some sort of correctional surveillance.
Persons incarcerated include those in state or federal prisons or local jails. This is the population most often cited when asked how many people in the United States are behind lock and key. BJS publishes an imprisonment rate for the number of prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction sentenced to more than 1 year in prison per 100,000 U.S. residents. The incarceration rate is the number per 100,000 U.S. residents of inmates held in the custody of local jails, state or federal prisons, or privately operated facilities. (More information about jurisdiction and custody counts can be found here.)
BJS also has a total incarceration count that includes those held in state and federal prisons, local jails, Indian country jails, U.S territory facilities, military facilities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and juvenile facilities.
Links to most recent publication:
A list of federally recognized tribes in the U.S. is available at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-01-29/pdf/2021-01606.pdf
Compared to jail facilities, prisons are longer-term facilities owned by a state or by the federal government. Prisons typically hold felons and persons with sentences of more than 1 year. However, sentence length may vary by state. Six states (i.e., Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Alaska, and Hawaii) have an integrated correctional system that combines jails and prisons. There are a small number of private prisons, facilities that are run by private prison corporations whose services and beds are contracted out by state or federal governments. See the Terms & Definitions section.
No. The total homicide count includes all types of intentional homicide and involuntary manslaughter as ruled by a medical examiner or other official medical investigation. The total includes homicides committed by inmates. It also includes homicides as a result of staff use of force, such as positional asphyxia, or suffocation caused by the position of the inmate's body, while the inmate is being removed from a cell. It includes legal-intervention homicides (e.g., an inmate is shot in the process of escape). The count also includes deaths caused by events prior to incarceration (e.g., an inmate was shot during an altercation on the street and dies from complications of the gunshot wound while incarcerated).
BJS began to collect mortality data from state prisons, local jails, and local and state law enforcement agencies in 2000 in response to the Congressional enactment of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA, P.L. 106-297). Through its Mortality in Institutional Corrections (MCI) collection, BJS obtained data on deaths that occurred in the custody of local jails from 2000 to 2019 and state prisons from 2001 to 2019. Deaths that occurred in the process of arrest by law enforcement agencies were collected from 2003 to 2009, and a redesigned methodology was tested in 2015 and 2016.
Federal agencies were not included in the 2000 DICRA law, but BJS collected summary statistics on persons who died in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) through 2014. After the reauthorization of DICRA in 2013 (P.L. 113-242), which included a requirement to collect data from federal agencies, BJS began obtaining individual-level death data from the BOP, as well as from other federal agencies with law enforcement responsibilities.
The 2013 DICRA reauthorization expanded the original 2000 law to include additional enforcement and compliance requirements for local and state law enforcement agencies, jails, and prisons. As a federal statistical agency and consistent with its authorizing legislation, BJS may only use the data it collects or maintains under its authority for statistical purposes, which excludes enforcement and compliance activities. Consequently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) determined that BJS's MCI collection did not meet the 2013 DICRA requirements. DOJ decided that it would be more appropriate for the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to administer the program and collect mortality data for DOJ starting with quarter 1 (Q1) of fiscal year (FY) 2019 (October to December 2019). State departments of corrections (DOC), local jails, and law enforcement agencies will now report their death information on a quarterly basis to centralized state agencies, who will compile and submit this to BJA to comply with all applicable DICRA requirements. Federal agencies, including the BOP, will continue to report deaths that occur in their custody to BJS.
Caution must be used when using trend data, as definitions and reporting capabilities change over time. Some changes in definitions are due to BJS initiatives to improve counting (such as separating out state inmates held in private facilities or local jails), some may be driven by the Office of Management and Budget (such as changes in racial and ethnic definitions), and some may be noted by the reported jurisdiction (such as noncitizen inmate counts, including those who were foreign-born).
Whenever possible, BJS notes these differences and encourages users to check footnotes within tables and jurisdiction notes within reports to better understand why comparability can vary from state-to-state or year-to-year.
Note: When you see a sharp increase or decline in a year-to-year count, it is recommended to verify there was no change in definition or counting method.