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Characteristics of Adults on Probation, 1995


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1997        202/307-0784


Almost 3.2 million Adults on Probation

     WASHINGTON -- Almost three-quarters of all
probationers had had some type of contact with
their probation officers during the month
before being surveyed, the Justice Department's
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) said today.  
     Sixty-one percent had a face-to-face
meeting in a probation office, at home, at work
or elsewhere.  More than a quarter had been
contacted by mail or telephone.  In addition,
for more than a quarter of all probationers,
probation officers had made contacts with other
persons, such as employers, teachers,
counselors, relatives, and police officers to
gather information.
     Detailed information gathered from
administrative records showed that half of the
people serving probation sentences had a 
criminal history involving prior sentences of
probation or incarceration--45 percent as an
adult and 9 percent as a juvenile.  About 30
percent of probationers had previously been
sentenced to jail or prison. 
     The data are from the first national
survey of probationers, which revealed that in
1995 about 58 percent of the offenders were
serving sentences of probation for a felony
offense, 39 percent for a misdemeanor and 3
percent for other infractions.
     Probation is conditional release into the
community under supervision in lieu of
     Thirty-seven percent of the probationers
surveyed had served time in jail or prison for
their current offense before being released
into the community under supervision,  
     An estimated 35 percent of those convicted
of a felony and 25 percent of those convicted
of a misdemeanor had served time in a local
jail for the offense for which they are
currently on probation.  Nine percent of the
felons had served time in a prison.
     When the survey was conducted at the
beginning of 1995, an estimated 453,000 adults
were on probation for violent offenses, 
757,000 for property offenses, 561,000 for drug
crimes and 815,000 for public order offenses,
such as drunk driving, other traffic offenses,
public drunkenness, weapons offenses,
obstruction of justice and other crimes.
     The survey found that since entering
probation, more than 60 percent of all
probationers had participated in some type of
special supervision or treatment program--37
percent had been in an alcohol or drug
treatment program, 12 percent had been in
special counseling (such as psychological or
family counseling and classes in life skills or
parenting), and 10 percent had been under
intensive supervision.  Nearly a third had been
tested for drugs at least once while on
     Almost all probationers had conditions
attached to their sentences, and 82 percent had
three or more.  The most common (84 percent)
was one or more monetary requirements--61
percent were ordered to pay supervision fees,
56 percent to pay a fine and 55 percent to pay 
court costs.
     Additional conditions included:
     --Almost one-third were ordered to pay
restitution to the victim or victims of their
     --One in ten probationers were restricted
from contacting any victim.
     --One in four were required to perform
some type of community service.
     --Two in five were formally directed to
maintain employment or to enroll in some type
of educational or training program.
     --Ten percent had limitations placed on
their movements, including directives to stay
away from certain places, such as bars or
certain businesses, house arrest, curfew or
electronic monitoring. 
     --An estimated 29 percent were required to
get treatment for alcohol abuse or dependency
and 23 percent for drug abuse.
     --Almost one-third of all probationers
were required to undergo drug testing.
     --Almost one in five were required to
participate in other treatment programs, such
as special psychiatric or psychological 
counseling or domestic violence counseling.
          More than half of all sentenced adult
offenders--58 percent--or 3,180,363 adults,
were on probation under supervision in the
community at the end of last year. Since 1990
the nation's probation population has grown an
average of 3 percent per year.  As of December
31, 1996, 1.6 percent of the U.S. adult
population, or about 1 in every 62 men and
women, were on probation.
     The report, "Characteristics of  Adults on
Probation, 1995" (NCJ-164267), was written by
BJS statistician Thomas P. Bonczar.  It is
available by clicking on BJS's homepage on the
Internet at:
     Single copies may also be obtained from
the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing
301/519-5550, listening to the complete 
instructions, selecting item number 90, 
then following the prompts.
     Additional criminal justice materials can
be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs
homepage at:
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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354 

Date Published: December 3, 1997