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19 February 2010

Reentry Facts

Reentry Facts

  • Federal and state corrections facilities held over 1.6 million prisoners at the end of 2008 — one of every 198 U.S. residents.1
  • At least 95 percent of state prisoners will be released back to their communities at some point.2
  • More than 735,000 individuals were released from state and federal prisons in 2008, an increase of 20 percent from 2000.3
  • Approximately 9 million individuals are released from jail each year.4
  • More than 5 million individuals were on probation or parole at the end of 2008.5
  • In a study of 15 states, more than two-thirds of state prisoners released in 1994 were re-arrested and more than half returned to prison within three years of their release.6
  • In 2008, parole violators accounted for 34.2 percent of all prison admissions, 36.2 percent of state admissions, and 8.2 percent of federal admissions.7
  • A quarter of adults exiting parole in 2008 — 133,947 individuals — returned to prison as a result of violating their terms of supervision, and 9 percent of adults exiting parole returned to prison as a result of a new conviction.8

Mental Health

  • The incidence of serious mental illnesses is two to four times higher among prisoners than it is in the general population.9
  • In a study of more than 20,000 adults entering five local jails, researchers documented serious mental illnesses in 14.5 percent of the men and 31 percent of the women, which taken together, comprises 16.9 percent of those studied — rates in excess of three to six times those found in the general population.10

Substance Abuse

  • Three quarters of those returning from prison have a history of substance use disorders. Over 70 percent of prisoners with serious mental illnesses also have a substance use disorder.11
  • In 2004, 53 percent of state and 45 percent of federal prisoners met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for drug abuse or dependence. Nearly a third of state and a quarter of federal prisoners committed their offense under the influence of drugs. Among state prisoners who were dependent on or abusing drugs, 53 percent had at least three prior sentences to probation or incarceration, compared to 32 percent of other inmates. At the time of their arrest, drug dependent or abusing state prisoners (48 percent) were also more likely than other inmates (37 percent) to have been on probation or parole supervision.12
  • In 2002, 68 percent of jail inmates met DSM criteria for drug abuse or dependence. Half of all convicted jail inmates were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of offense. Inmates who met substance dependence/abuse criteria were twice as likely as other inmates to have three or more prior probation or incarceration sentences.13
  • Only 7 percent to 17 percent of prisoners who meet DSM criteria for alcohol/drug dependence or abuse receive treatment in jail or prison.14

Housing & Homelessness

  • More than 10 percent of those entering prisons and jails are homeless in the months before their incarceration. For those with mental illness, the rates are even higher — about 20 percent. Released prisoners with a history of shelter use were almost five times as likely to have a post-release shelter stay.15
  • According to a qualitative study by the Vera Institute of Justice, people released from prison and jail to parole who entered homeless shelters in New York City were seven times more likely to abscond during the first month after release than those who had some form of housing.16


  • The prevalence of chronic illnesses and communicable diseases is far greater among people in jails and prisons.17
  • In 1997, individuals released from prison or jail accounted for nearly one-quarter of all people living with HIV or AIDS, almost one-third of those diagnosed with hepatitis C, and more than one-third of those diagnosed with tuberculosis.18
  • At yearend 2008, 1.5% (20,231) of male inmates and 1.9% (1,913) of female inmates held in state or federal prisons were HIV positive or had confirmed AIDS. Confirmed AIDS cases accounted for nearly a quarter (23%) of all HIV/AIDS cases in state and federal prison. In 2007, the most recent year for which general population data are available, the overall rate of estimated confirmed AIDS among the state and federal prison population (0.43%) was 2.5 times the rate in the general population (0.17%).19

Education & Employment

  • Two in five prison and jail inmates lack a high school diploma or its equivalent.20
  • Employment rates and earnings histories of people in prisons and jails are often low before incarceration as a result of limited education experiences, low skill levels, and the prevalence of physical and mental health problems; incarceration only exacerbates these challenges.21
  • A large, three-state recidivism study found that less than half of released prisoners had secured a job upon their return to the community.22


  • An estimated 809,800 prisoners of the 1,518,535 held in the nation’s prisons at midyear 2007 were parents of children under age 18. Parents held in the nation’s prisons — 52 percent of state inmates and 63 percent of federal inmates — reported having an estimated 1,706,600 minor children, accounting for 2.3 percent of the U.S. resident population under age 18.23
  • Since 1991, the number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled, up 131 percent. The number of children with a father in prison has grown by 77 percent.24
  • Twenty-two percent of the children of state inmates and 16 percent of the children of federal inmates were age 4 or younger. For both state (53 percent) and federal (50 percent) inmates, about half their children were age 9 or younger.25
  1. West, H.C., W. Sabol, & M. Cooper. Prisoners in 2008. NCJ 228417. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009.
  2. Hughes, T. & D.J. Wilson. Reentry Trends in the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2002.
  3. West, Sabol, & Cooper.
  4. Beck, A.J. The Importance of Successful Reentry to Jail Population Growth. Presented at the Urban Institute's Jail Reentry Roundtable, June 27, 2006.
  5. Glaze, L.E. & T.P. Bonczar. Probation and Parole in the United States, 2008. NCJ 228230. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009.
  6. Langan, P.A. & D.J. Levin. Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. NCJ 193427. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002.
  7. West, Sabol, & Cooper.
  8. Glaze & Bonczar.
  9. Hammett, T., C. Roberts, & S. Kennedy. "Health-Related Issues in Prisoner Reentry." Crime & Delinquency 47, no. 3 (2001): 390-409.
  10. Steadman, H.J., F. Osher, P.C. Robbins, B. Case, & S. Samuels. "Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness Among Jail Inmates." Psychiatric Services 60 (2009): 761–65.
  11. Hammett, Roberts, & Kennedy.
  12. Mumola, C.J. & J.C. Karberg. Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004. NCJ 213530. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
  13. Karberg, J.C. & D.J. James. Substance Dependence, Abuse, and Treatment of Jail Inmates, 2002. NCJ 209588. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics,

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

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