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5.5 Million U.S. Adults Under Correctional Supervision


September-October 1997

One in every 35 adults (2.8%) in the U.S. were incarcerated or on probation or parole as of December 31, 1996, according to the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. About 1.6 million adults were in Federal or state prison or in jail, and 3.9 million adults were on probation and parole by the end of 1996 (Christopher J. Mumola and Allen J. Beck, PhD, "Prisoners in 1996," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, June 1997, NCJ 164619; Jodi M. Brown and Allen J. Beck, PhD, "Nation's Probation and Parole Population Reached Almost 3.9 Million Last Year," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, August 1997, NCJ 166364).

As a percentage of all state prisoners, drug offenders rose from 9% in 1985 to 23% in 1995. By 1995, nearly 6 times as many state inmates were serving time for drug offenses as in 1985. The increase in state drug offenders averaged 8.6% from 1990 to 1995, down from the 30.7% average increase during 1985 to 1990. Drug offenders represented 35% of the total growth in state inmates from 1985 to 1995. From 1985 to 1995, while the number of white drug offenders in state prison increased 306%, the number of black drug offenders in state prison increased 707%.

In Federal prison, drug offenders are 60% of those incarcerated. From 1985 to 1995, drug offenders accounted for more than 80% of the total growth in Federal inmates. There were 51,737 drug offenders in Federal prison in 1995, compared to 9,482 such inmates in 1985.

Of the 3,180,363 adults on probation at the end of 1996, 17% had been convicted of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.

The reports are available by fax by calling (301) 251-5550 or calling the BJS Clearinghouse at (800) 732-3277. It is also available on-line at