Corrections refers to the supervision of persons arrested for, convicted of, or sentenced for criminal offenses. Correctional populations fall into two general categories: institutional corrections and community corrections. Corrections data, with a few exceptions, covers adult agencies or facilities and adult offenders.
BJS maintains over 30 corrections-related data collections. Most are annual collections of administrative data from correctional administrators, ranging from basic population counts and offender demographic characteristics to facility capacity, programs, staff, and resources. These data collections include—
- National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program - administrative data on state and federal prisoners, collected twice a year
- Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) - administrative data on jail populations
- Annual Probation Survey and Annual Parole Survey - administrative data on offenders under community supervision
- National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) - administrative data on admissions to and releases from state prisons, collected annually from participating state jurisdictions
- Census of Jails and Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities - administrative data on facilities and staff, collected periodically.
- Justice Expenditures and Employment Extracts (JEEE) - administrative data on federal, state, and local government expenditures and employment for corrections activities.
The NPS also collects counts on specific inmate populations from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. territories. Some limited information on the number of juveniles held in adult facilities is also collected in the NPS and the ASJ. Jails in Indian Country is a separate collection for data on counts and characteristics of persons held in tribal jails. BJS also tracks administrative data on other topics, such as HIV in correctional facilities; deaths in custody; sexual assault in correctional facilities; and capital punishment statutes, populations, and executions.
In addition to collecting administrative data, BJS maintains a number of recurring national surveys of prison and jail inmates. These surveys are conducted periodically and use a nationally representative sample of inmates. The surveys, Survey of Prison Inmates (formerly known as the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities) and the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, are broad in scope and collect a wide range of data on the personal and criminal histories of criminal offenders. Topics cover childhood experiences, family structure, educational background, prior criminal activity, substance abuse experiences, mental and physical health problems, and conditions of current confinement. Estimates derived from these surveys are national and, with rare exceptions, are not available at the state or facility level.
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.