Probation is the supervision in a community in which offenders are placed by a court through a probation agency instead of being imprisoned. Probation may be combined with short-term imprisonment that is called a split sentence. It can be either active or inactive; in an active probation, the offender is supposed to report regularly to a probation officer personally or through some other method of communication. In the inactive probation, the offender is not required to report to anyone. Inactive probations are brought about by several factors one of them being that the offence was very light and hence it does not demand a severe sentence.

Another reason may be a reduction in the sentence thereby changing it from an active to an inactive probation. There are other types of probation; they are determined by the finances of the offender, if the offender runs away, or if the offender has an active warrant. Offenders may be required to fulfill certain requirements during their probation period that may include payment of fees or fines and participation in treatment or rehabilitation programs. Additionally, they are required to adhere to some rules with the penalty for failure to comply being incarceration (Carter, McGee & Nelson, 1995).

Data shows that at least 95% of the prisoners are released from prison of which 80% are released to parole supervision. Many prisoners serve a limited time before being released. In 2000, sixteen states abolished the release of offenders by a parole board. The number of inmates who were released into community service was 592,000 in 2001. In 2002, there were 670,169 individuals under state parole supervision. In 2000, among those who were discharged by a state parole board, only 41% of them were able to complete their term of supervision. This percentage has remained unchanged since the 1990s (Hughes & Wilson, 2010). This indicates that those who are given the opportunity to go for parole are unlikely to follow set rules.

In 2005, the adult population who went under probation grew by 0.5%. This was the smallest increase in the last 26 with the increase numbering 19,070. Half of the probationers were condemned for being felons, 49% of them were under misdemeanor charges, and the rest were under various violations of the law. In the one percent, 28% of them were under charges for drug law contraventions, and fifteen percent for driving while intoxicated. In the same year, the parole population grew by 1.6 % that translated to 12,556 people on parole. The number of probationers in 2006 grew from the previous year by 1.7% individuals that translated to 70,266 people. More than 80% of those under community service were under probation at the end of the year. By the end of 2006, 798,202 adults were on parole or under mandatory conditional release from prison terms. The parolees’ rate of increase that year was 2.3%; this was 17,589 people on parole.

The rate of increase of parolees shows a trend where the number of parolees may become unmanageable. If the trend continues, resources would be strained such that it would be impossible to manage the parolees (Conrad, 1989). Therefore, ways through which the number of criminal acts can to be reduced should be sought. This can only be done through social change whereby the public trains itself to honor the country’s rules and regulations. Through such a campaign, the number of cases would go down and the country would be a safer more regulated environment in which to live.

By the end of 2008, about 5.1 million people were under community supervision. This was about one in every forty-five adults in the U.S. Most of the people in the community service were probationers who made up 84% of the population. The parolees made up less of the group with about 16% that was 828,169 individuals. The probation and parole rates grew at the same pace with each growing by 0.9%. People under probation that year grew by 36,446 while those under parole grew by 6,922 people. The number of people who were parolees in 2008 was lower than the number in 2005; therefore, the number overall was lower than the previous twenty-nine years. The data shows that parolees have been increasing in every year in which it was taken.

In 2007, the total number of reported paroles was 2,183,333. Among these parolees, those who had gone on probation without incarceration was 620,840, while 207,392 had gone on probation with incarceration. The northeast had the largest number of parolees with about 2,171,518 in number while the west had the least with 426,518 (Bonczar & Glaze, 2009). The number of people under probation is therefore quit high in the country. This can be attributed to the fact that the offenders may not be fully rehabilitated or repentant enough to change their habits. This fact could explain the dismal rate of success (41%) of those who make it to parole. In addition, the relative freedom that is enjoyed by those on parole could mean that they desire more freedom and hence the rate of failure. This is especially true since there are no armed guards to make sure that the offenders follow the set rules.

Due to rapid increase in the number of offenders who are paroled, they have been increasingly released conditionally. The rate of increase in the people who were paroled was an average of 3.6% annually since the 1990s. In addition, the character of those who go to parole has changed significantly becoming female with the years. In 1998, the rate was at 21% that was an increase from the previous year. The parolees were also getting older with 35% of them being between 35 and 54 years of age while in 1990, they had only been 25% of the population of parolees. Violence also decreased with the years against the supervising officials with the population of those who were violent being 24% in 1997; a decrease from 1985 that had 35% of the population being violent (Beck, 2000). This trend shows that parole is becoming an acceptable phenomenon in society since those who react violently against their supervisors, only act while mirroring society (Stanley, 1996). In addition, breaking parole has become a habit since prisons are gaining numbers with 42% of those who are released going back to prison. This shows that parole is not a very effective community based method of correcting offenders and, therefore, it should be replaced with other more creative and effective means.




Beck, A. J. (2000, April 13). State and Federal prisoners returning to the community: Findings from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved January 17, 2010 from

Bonczar, T. P. & Glaze, L. E. (2009, April 2). Adults entering probation, by type of sentence, 2007: Appendix Table 2 from Probation and Parole in the United States, 2007 – Statistical Tables. Retrieved January 17, 2010 from

Carter, R. M. McGee, R. A., & Nelson, E. K. (1995). Corrections in America. United States, Washington, DC; ‎Lippincott

Conrad, J. P. (1989).The Future of corrections. United States, Washington, DC; American Academy of Political and Social Science

Hughes, T. & Wilson, D. J (2010, 17 January). Reentry Trends in the United States: Inmates returning to the community after serving time in prison. Retrieved January 17, 2010 from:

Stanley, D. T. (1996). Prisoners among us: the problem of parole. United States, MI: Brookings Institution

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