Reentry Trends in the U.S.

by Incarcerated Flavors


At least 95% of all State prisoners will be released from prison at some point; nearly 80% will be released to parole supervision


Number of releases

Despite a decline in prison release rates from 1990 to 2000, the number of prisoners released each year continued to grow.

In 2001, 592,000 offenders were released from State prison, a 46% increase over the 405,400 offenders that were released in 1990. In 2002, a projected 595,000 State inmates will be released to the community.
The release rate of State prisoners declined from 37% in 1990 to 31% in 1994. Since 1994, the rate of release has remained stable and was 33% in 2001.
Release rate: the number of releases per 100 sentenced prisoners at the beginning of each year, plus the number admitted during the year.
Five States (California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas) accounted for nearly half of all releases from State prison in 2001.

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Releases by county of jurisdiction

  • The top 50 counties in participating NCRP States accounted for 38% of all releases from State prison in 2001.
  • In 2001, Los Angeles County, CA, had the largest number of releases from prison (37,080), followed by Cook County, IL, (17,480), and San Bernardino, CA, (10,183).
  • California had 18 counties in the top 50, followed by Florida (5), New Jersey (4), New York (4), and Texas (4). These 35 counties accounted for 29% of all releases from State prisons during 2001.

To Table of releases in the top 50 counties 

Method of release

Since 1990, mandatory parole releases have increased, while discretionary releases have decreased.

To view data, click on the chart.

Method of release from State prison, 1980-99[D]
Discretionary releases to parole dropped from 39% of releases in 1990 to 24% in 2000.
Discretionary parole exists when a parole board has authority to conditionally release prisoners based on a statutory or administrative determination of eligibility.
Mandatory releases to parole have steadily increased from 116,857 in 1990 to 221,414 in 2000 (from 29% of all State prison releases to 39%).
Mandatory parole generally occurs in jurisdictions using determinate sentencing statutes in which inmates are conditionally released from prison after serving a specified portion of their original sentence minus any good time earned.
About 112,000 State prisoners were released unconditionally through an expiration of their sentence in 2000, up from 51,288 in 1990.
16 States have abolished discretionary parole for all offenders
States that have abolished discretionary parole, 2000