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DOJ Press Release letterhead

Thursday, November 30, 2006
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Stu Smith
Phone: (202) 307-0784
TTY: (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON -- As of last Dec. 31 there were 1,525,924 prisoners being held by state and federal correctional authorities, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced in a report published today. At the same time a separate BJS survey found that the adult U.S. correctional population, including those on probation or parole, reached a high of more than 7 million men and women for the first time. About 3 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 32 adults, were in the nation's prisons and jails or on probation or parole at the end of last year.

            Between Jan.1 and Dec.31, 2005, the number of inmates under state jurisdiction rose by 21,534 (1.6 percent). At the same time, the federal population rose 7,290 (4 percent). Overall, the U.S. prison population rose 1.9 percent during 2005 – the same as the growth in 2004. On Dec. 31, 2005, nearly 2.2 million inmates were held in state and federal prisons or county and municipal jails –– the equivalent of 1 in every 136 U.S. residents.

            Fourteen states reported increases of at least 5 percent during 2005; 11 states reported decreases. The federal system remained the largest prison system (with 187,618 inmates under its jurisdiction), followed by California (170,676) and Texas (169,003). During 2005, several states experienced significant growth, led by South Dakota (up 12 percent), Montana (up 11 percent) and Kentucky (up 10 percent).

             Although state and federal prison releases continue to increase (reaching 672,000 in 2004, the
latest available data), the number of admissions to prison (697,000 in 2004) still exceeds the number of releases. In 2004, about two-thirds of state prison admissions were new court commitments and the other third was made up of returned parole violators.

            Depending on the measure of capacity, state prisons in 1995 were operating between 14 percent and 25 percent over capacity. Since then, states have added bed space at a faster rate than the growth in the inmate population. At the end of 2005, state prisons were operating between 1 percent under and 14 percent over capacity. The federal system was operating at 34 percent over capacity.

            In 2005, nearly 107,500 state and federal inmates (7 percent of prison inmates) were held in private prison facilities; another 73,097 (5 percent of inmates) were held in local jails. The proportion of inmates held in privately-operated or local jail facilities for state or federal authorities has been stable since 2000. About a quarter of all inmates in privately-operated facilities were being held for the federal system (27,046).

            At the end of 2005, there were 4,162,536 adult men and women on probation. Probationers are criminal offenders who have been sentenced to a period of conditional supervision in the community, generally in lieu of incarceration. During 2005, the probation population grew by 19,070, or 0.5 percent, which was the smallest increase since the survey began in 1980.

            There were 784,408 adult men and women on parole as of Dec. 31, 2005. Parolees are criminal offenders supervised conditionally in the community following a prison term. The parole population grew by 12,556 –– an increase of almost 2 percent during 2005.

            Fifty percent of all probationers in 2005 had been convicted of a felony, 49 percent of a misdemeanor and 1 percent for other infractions. Twenty-eight percent were under supervision for a drug law violation.

            One state, Mississippi, had an increase of 10 percent or more in its probation population during 2005 (17 percent). Nine states had increases of 5 percent or more. The adult probation population decreased in 15 states. Maine had the largest decrease (9 percent).

            During the year, more than 2.2 million adults were discharged from probation supervision, and about 3 in 5 probationers had successfully met the conditions of their supervision.

            Eleven states had increases of 10 percent or more in their parole population during 2005. Arkansas had the largest increase (23 percent), followed by North Dakota (17 percent). Fourteen states reported a decrease in their parole population. Nebraska (down 17 percent) was the only state with a double-digit decrease.

            Mandatory releases from prison as a result of a sentencing statue or good-time provision comprised 51 percent of those entering parole in 2005, up from 45 percent in 1995. Overall success rates for parolees have remained stable over the last decade (45 percent in 1995 and 2005).

            Following publication, the reports, "Prisoners in 2005" (NCJ-215092), written by BJS statisticians Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, and "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2005" (NCJ-215091), written by BJS statisticians Lauren E. Glaze and Thomas P. Bonczar, can be found at and

            For additional information about Bureau of Justice Statistics statistical reports programs, please visit the BJS Web site at:

            The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) 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 an office: 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 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