The number of adults on probation and parole in the U.S. dropped 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports. The total went down two percent between 2017 and 2018, making the number on “community supervision” around the U.S. at its lowest level since 1998. An estimated 1 in 58 adults in the U.S. were under community supervision at the end of 2018, down from 1 in 45 in 2008, the agency reported.
Within the two forms of supervision, the number of parolees increased six percent in the decade starting in 2008 and three-tenths of a percent between 2017 and 2018. The adult probation population dropped 17 percent from 2008 to 2018 and three percent from 2017 to 2018. There were 4,399,000 on probation or parole at the end of 2018, far more than the number in prison or jail on any given day, which exceeded two million before the coronavirus pandemic. The number of probationers, about 3.5 million at the end of 2018 far exceeds the number of parolees, 878,000. Probation usually is an alternative to incarceration that is ordered as a suspect pleads guilty in court. Parole is supervision after an inmate leaves prison or jail.