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Study: Of State Prison Admissions, 44% Violated Probation-Parole

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A new analysis from the Council of State Government Justice Center found that despite recent declines, parole-probation violators still make up a large proportion of new prison admissions. In 2021, 44% of state prison admission were people who violated the terms of their parole or probation sentences. And on any given day, 1 in 4 people in state prison were incarcerated because they violated the terms of their supervision. Those proportions have remained constant, even as overall numbers have decreased.

“For a system originally designed to offer social assistance and rehabilitation and keep people out of prison, these numbers provide a reality check that more progress is still needed,” concludes the analysis, done in partnership with the Correctional Leaders Association and Arnold Ventures.

Incarceration for violations of supervision declined in 2020 and, in many states, continued to drop in 2021.

Ten states – Colorado, Minnesota, Hawaii, New Jersey, Kansas, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Vermont – reduced admissions by 50% or more. The declines are part of a larger trend: from 2018 to 2021, across the country, the numbers of prison admissions from community supervision decreased by one-third. Part of that was due to decreased criminal activity during the height of the pandemic, with the exception of homicides and intimate-partner violence. It was also affected by changes in supervision practices and court backlogs.

Researchers examining those states where supervision incarcerations fell – and where they didn’t -- have found no significant relationship between changes in the number of people incarcerated for supervision violations and changes in violent-crime rates at state levels.

But in 2021, states collectively spent more than $10 billion incarcerating probation-parole violators. More than $3 billion of that was for technical violations, not for new criminal activity. Research examining technical violations shows that clients who are supervised more intensively are more likely to fail and that reducing supervision conditions and practices improves success.

Racial disparities begin prior to criminal-justice-system contact and persist at all stages of the system. When looking at parole and disparities, 18 states – including much of the Deep South -- did not exhibit disparities in revocation rates, while 20 states increased the disparities. Twelve states – including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania -- reincarcerated Black parolees at a 20% or higher rate.



A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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