U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Probation and Parole in the United States, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Bureau of Justice Statistics
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2005 www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
  Contact: Stu Smith 202-307-0703
  After hours: 301-983-9354


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The number of adults in prison, jail, or on probation or parole reached almost 7 million during 2004, the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The number has grown by more than 1.6 million adults under correctional authority control since 1995.

The nation's total correctional population was 6,996,500 in 2004, of which 4,151,125 were living in the community on probation; 1,421,911 were in a state or federal prison; 765,355 were living in the community on parole; and 713,990 were in jail, according to the BJS report on probation and parole. At year-end one in every 31 adults were under correctional supervision, which was 3.2 percent of the U.S. adult population.

Probationers are criminal offenders who have been sentenced to a period of conditional supervision in the community, generally in lieu of incarceration. Parolees are criminal offenders supervised conditionally in the community following a prison term.

The study's other highlights included the following:


  • The adult probation population grew 0.2 percent during 2004. This was the smallest annual growth rate since this survey began in 1979.
  • Fifty percent of all probationers had been convicted of a misdemeanor, 49 percent of a felony and 1 percent of other infractions. Twenty-six percent were on probation for a drug law violation, and 15 percent for driving while intoxicated.
  • Four states had an increase of 10 percent or more in their probation population in 2004: Kentucky (15 percent), Mississippi (12 percent), New Mexico (11 percent) and New Jersey (10 percent).
  • The adult probation population decreased in 21 states. Washington was the only state with a double-digit decrease (down 27 percent).
  • 2.2 million adults were discharged from probation supervision during 2004, and 60 percent successfully met the conditions of their supervision, nearly unchanged since 1995.


  • The adult parole population grew 20,230 or 2.7 percent during the year, more than twice the average annual increase of 1.3 percent since 1995.
  • Thirty-nine states had increases in their parole populations in 2004, led by Nebraska (24 percent), Vermont (16 percent) and New Mexico (15 percent).
  • Nine states had decreases in their parole populations. Nevada (down 13 percent) was the only state with a decrease of more than 10 percent, followed by Virginia (down 9 percent).
  • Mandatory releases from prison as a result of sentencing statutes or good-time provisions comprised 52 percent of those entering parole in 2004, up from 45 percent in 1995.
  • Overall success rates for parolees have remained nearly the same between 1995 (45 percent) and 2004 (46 percent).

The report, "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2004" (NCJ-210676), was written by BJS statisticians Lauren E. Glaze and Seri Palla. This report is available on BJS website at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1108

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics statistical reports programs, please visit the BJS website at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/.

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

# # #


Date Published: November 2, 2005