Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2002
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The State
Author: Jonathan D. Salant, The Associated Press


Study Shows Surge In Adults Behind Bars Or On Parole Or Probation, Many For 
Drug Convictions

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. Also:

. 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 supervised.

"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 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;

. 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, 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, such as 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.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens