Pubdate: Mon, 26 Aug 2002
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2002 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Jonathan D. Salant, Associated Press


WASHINGTON -- One in every 32 adults in the United States was behind bars 
or on probation or parole by the end of last year, according to a 
government report Sunday that found a record 6.6 million people in the 
nation's correctional system.

The number of adults under supervision by the criminal justice system rose 
by 147,700, or 2.3 percent, between 2000 and 2001, the Justice Department 
reported. In 1990, almost 4.4 million adults were incarcerated or being 

"The overall figures suggest that we've come to rely on the criminal 
justice system as a way of responding to social problems in a way that's 
unprecedented," said Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing 
Project, an advocacy and research group that favors alternatives to 
incarceration. "We're setting a new record every day."

Almost 4 million people were on probation, 2.8 percent more than in 2000, 
while the number of people in prison grew by 1.1 percent to 1.3 million, 
the smallest annual increase in nearly three decades. More than half of 
those on probation -- 53 percent -- had been convicted of felonies, 
according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report.

Experts noted the recent trend of arrests declined for murder, rape and 
other violent crimes. Many of those on probation were convicted of using 
illegal drugs or driving while intoxicated, the report showed.

In addition, some states have eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for 
certain crimes. California's Proposition 36, passed in 2000 with 61 percent 
of the vote, requires treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent 
drug offenders. Most of those drug users wind up on probation.

"The collection of reforms, from drug courts to treatment in lieu of 
incarceration to sentence reforms like getting rid of mandatory minimums 
and expanding community correction options, have the effect of redirecting 
people from prison to probation," said Nick Turner, director of national 
programs for the Vera Institute of Justice. The nonprofit research group 
works with governments on criminal justice issues.

The government report found that 46 percent of those discharged from parole 
in 2001 had met the conditions of supervision, while 40 percent went back 
to jail or prison for violations.

Texas had more adults under correctional supervision than any other state, 
755,100. California was second with 704,900. Texas also had the most adults 
on probation, 443,684, followed by California at 350,768.

Whites accounted for 55 percent of those on probation, while blacks made up 
31 percent, statistics show. On the other hand, 46 percent of those 
incarcerated were black and 36 percent were white.

On the Net: The Sentencing Project:

Vera Institute of Justice:

Bureau of Justice Statistics:
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart