oversight

Federal Offenders: Trends in Community Supervision

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-08-13.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to Congressional Committees




August 1997
                 FEDERAL
                 OFFENDERS
                 Trends in Community
                 Supervision




GAO/GGD-97-110
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      General Government Division

      B-274290

      August 13, 1997

      The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
      Chairman
      The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
      Ranking Minority Member
      Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the
        Courts
      Committee on the Judiciary
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Howard Coble
      Chairman
      The Honorable Barney Frank
      Ranking Minority Member
      Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property
      Committee on the Judiciary
      House of Representatives

      This report discusses trends in the number of federal offenders serving
      terms of community supervision during fiscal years 1990 through 1996.1 At
      the end of fiscal year 1996, there were almost as many convicted offenders
      serving terms of community supervision as there were inmates in federal
      prisons. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) has asserted
      that offenders serving terms of postprison supervision pose more
      problems for probation officers and present a greater risk to the
      community than those serving terms of probation. According to AOUSC,
      inmates released from prison face transitional problems and have more
      social, psychological, or medical problems than offenders placed on
      probation.

      This report is intended to assist your committees in their oversight of
      community supervision programs. Our overall objective in this
      self-initiated review was to identify changes in the federal community
      supervision population that could affect probation officers’ workload. This
      report discusses trends in (1) the growth of the total supervision
      population and any changes in the composition of that population by type
      of supervision; (2) the number of offenders who had special conditions
      imposed on their terms of supervision, such as home confinement or drug
      treatment; and (3) the number of persons who were removed from
      supervision for violating the terms of their supervision.

      1
       Community supervision includes offenders sentenced to a term of probation and offenders who are
      serving a term of supervision in the community, either parole or supervised release, after release from
      prison. For further explanation of the types of community supervision, see glossary.



      Page 1                GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
             B-274290




             To accomplish our objective, we obtained and analyzed relevant data from
             AOUSC and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on the numbers of offenders in the
             supervision programs, those who had special conditions imposed on them,
             and the number of offenders removed from the programs. Our scope and
             methodology are discussed in more detail in appendix I.

             We performed our work in Washington, D.C., from September 1996 to
             June 1997 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
             standards. We requested comments on a draft of this report from the
             Director, AOUSC. These comments are discussed at the end of this letter.


             The Sentencing Reform Act of 19842 (1) created the U.S. Sentencing
Background   Commission to develop a set of federal sentencing guidelines,3
             (2) replaced parole with supervised release for postprison supervision,
             and (3) made probation a separate sentence. Prior to these changes,
             federal offenders could be sentenced to a term of probation as part of a
             suspended prison sentence, meaning that they were released from custody
             but had to routinely report to officers of the court (probation officers), or
             be sentenced to prison terms. Offenders who exhibited good behavior
             while in prison could be released on parole after serving as little as
             one-third of their prison terms. The United States Parole Commission
             (USPC) determined whether and when an offender was granted parole.

             The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 made probation a separate sentence
             and restricted an offender’s eligibility for probation. The sentencing
             guidelines, in implementing the provisions of the act, are more detailed
             and provide judges less sentencing discretion than the system they
             replaced.

             The implementation of the sentencing guidelines, laws providing
             mandatory minimum sentences4 for certain offenses (mostly drug and
             violent offenses), and laws broadening federal criminal jurisdiction have




             2
              Public Law 98-473 (chapter II of title II).
             3
              The guidelines apply to all crimes committed on or after November 1, 1987. Persons may still be
             sentenced under the preguidelines system if their crimes were committed prior to November 1, 1987.
             The guidelines were not implemented nationally until the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their
             constitutionality in January 1989 in Mistretta v. U.S., 488 U.S. 361.
             4
              Mandatory minimum sentence refers to a statutory provision requiring the imposition of at least a
             specified minimum sentence when the statutorily specified criteria have been met.



             Page 2                 GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
B-274290




together resulted in a steadily growing federal prison population.5 From
fiscal years 1990 through 1996, the number of inmates in federal prisons
grew from 58,021 to 94,695. Under the sentencing guidelines, offenders
sentenced to a prison term of 1 year or more usually also receive a term of
postprison supervision (about 1 to 5 years) called supervised release.
Offenders must serve at least 85 percent of their prison terms before they
are eligible for supervised release.6

The primary goals of community supervision are to control risk to the
community, enforce conditions of supervision, and provide for
correctional treatment. Appendix II includes flowcharts of the supervision
process that depict how offenders under each type of supervision enter
and proceed through the community supervision program.

Probation officers are responsible for supervising offenders on community
supervision. They are to evaluate each offender’s needs and prepare a
supervision plan, enforce any conditions of release, monitor offender
behavior, and report violations to the courts. According to AOUSC officials,
the higher the perceived risk to the community, the more intensive the
supervision, including more frequent contacts with the offender. Further,
AOUSC has also indicated that risk is associated with several factors. These
factors include the extent to which offenders had serious criminal
histories, had special conditions imposed on their supervision, or had
violated the terms of their supervision. As noted earlier, AOUSC also
believes that postprison offenders generally require more intensive
supervision because these risk factors are more prevalent among this
population.

Some offenders under community supervision may have special
conditions placed on them. For example, offenders may be placed on
home confinement with or without electronic monitoring7; be required to
participate in drug, alcohol, or mental health treatment or counseling
programs; be required to provide community service; or receive any
combination of these conditions. These special conditions may be
imposed by the judge at sentencing, or the probation officer may
determine that such special conditions are required when preparing the


5
For further discussion of inmate prison trends, see Federal and State Prisons: Inmate Populations,
Costs, and Projection Models (GAO/GGD-97-15, Nov. 25, 1996).
6
 Offenders sentenced under the guidelines are eligible for a maximum reduction in their prison terms
of 54 days per year for satisfactory behavior.
7
 Electronic monitoring is the use of any electronic equipment to provide information about the
location of the offender.


Page 3               GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
B-274290




supervision plan8 or when monitoring the offender’s behavior while on
community supervision.9 If the probation officer determines that such
conditions are necessary, the probation officer may petition the court to
impose special conditions during the course of the offender’s supervision.

According to AOUSC, offenders are removed from supervision because they
violate the terms of their supervision or their term (1) expires,
(2) terminates early, or (3) terminates for various noncriminal-related
reasons, such as death or medical conditions.10 AOUSC classifies violations
of supervision as technical, minor, or major. A technical violation is a
violation of the conditions of supervision other than the conviction for a
new offense. A minor violation is a conviction for a minor offense, such as
disorderly conduct or drunken driving, for which the sentence is
imprisonment for 90 days or less, probation for 1 year or less, or a fine. A
major violation is the involvement in or conviction for a new major
offense, including absconding from custody, having been arrested on
another charge, or convicted and sentenced to more than 90 days of
imprisonment or more than 1 year of probation. Offenders who violate
their release conditions may be imprisoned, particularly if they have been
convicted of a new offense, or may be sanctioned in other ways, such as
having more restrictive conditions placed on their release.

Violations generally create additional work for probation officers. First,
when an offender violates one or more of his or her release conditions, the
probation officer may petition the court to impose more restrictive release
conditions, such as more frequent drug testing, which the probation
officer must monitor. The probation officer may, at his or her option,
choose to file a violation report with the court and petition the court to
have the violator removed from community supervision and incarcerated.
If the officer chooses to petition the court for removal (through the local
U.S. Attorney’s office), the officer must prepare a violation report and
usually must appear at a court hearing to consider the probation officer’s
request.




8
 Other conditions, such as the frequency of offender meetings with the probation officer, imposed by
the probation officer may be in addition to those imposed at sentencing.
9
 For offenders serving a term of parole, however, USPC determines when special conditions are
required.
10
 According to AOUSC, other reasons may include deportation, release to the military (probation
officers also supervise those released on parole from military prisons), or release from supervision
during an appeal.


Page 4                GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                   B-274290




                   The total population of federal offenders under community supervision
Results in Brief   rose 10 percent during fiscal years 1990 through 1996.11 The most notable
                   change in the mix of this population occurred in the percentage of
                   offenders serving a term of community supervision following a prison
                   term. Specifically, the probation population decreased about 35 percent,
                   while those on postprison supervision— i.e, parole and supervised
                   release—rose 94 percent. The increase in the postprison supervision
                   population is entirely due to the large increase in the number of offenders
                   on supervised release.

                   During fiscal years 1991 through 1995, the number of offenders sentenced
                   with serious criminal histories grew at a significantly greater rate than did
                   those with less serious criminal histories. Further, available data suggest
                   that inmates released from BOP prisons in fiscal years 1997 through 2001
                   may include a greater number of high-risk offenders than did the
                   population released through fiscal year 1996.

                   The total number of offenders with special conditions remained relatively
                   stable between fiscal years 1992 and 1996. In addition, the total number of
                   offenders removed from supervision for violating their terms of
                   supervision increased by about 21 percent between fiscal years 1990 and
                   1996.

                   To the extent that the trends continue in (1) the mix of offenders under
                   federal supervision, (2) the number of offenders sentenced with more
                   serious criminal histories, and (3) the number of offenders removed from
                   supervision due to violations, the workload of probation officers would
                   likely increase. If the trend in the number of offenders with special
                   conditions remains stable, it would not likely affect the workload of
                   probation officers.12




                   11
                     We used 1990 as our base year because this was the first full fiscal year the guidelines were
                   implemented nationally. Although the guidelines applied to crimes committed after October 31, 1987,
                   they were not implemented nationally until January 1989, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their
                   constitutionality. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, more than 200 district court judges had
                   invalidated the guidelines in whole or in part. This delay in national implementation, combined with
                   the requirement that those sentenced to prison must serve 85 percent of their prison terms before
                   being released, limited the number of persons on supervised release in fiscal year 1990. Generally, only
                   those sentenced to short prison terms (about 2 years or less) could have been released from prison to
                   begin their supervised release terms by fiscal year 1990, which began on October 1, 1989.
                   12
                    This assumes that probation officers would continue to devote about the same amount of time to
                   offenders with special conditions as they have in the past.



                   Page 5                GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                        B-274290




                        Although the total federal population on community supervision grew only
Fewer Federal           10 percent from fiscal years 1990 through 1996 (compared to a 63 percent
Offenders Have Been     growth in the federal prison population),13 two noteworthy changes
Sentenced Directly to   occurred in that population, both caused by the implementation of the
                        Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. First, the percentage of offenders
Community               sentenced directly to community supervision (probation) decreased, and
Supervision             the percentage of offenders sentenced to prison terms with required
                        supervised release increased. Second, the percentage of offenders released
                        from prison to parole also decreased, reflecting the decrease in the
                        number of offenders who were sentenced under the preguidelines system.
                        BOP estimates project that these trends will continue and that a larger
                        proportion of offenders who could pose a higher risk of recidivism are
                        scheduled to be released to community supervision over the next 5 years.

                        As shown in figure 1, during fiscal years 1990 through 1996, the total
                        federal population under community supervision grew by about
                        10 percent, from 80,592 to 88,966.14 During this period, the probation
                        population decreased by about 35 percent; the parole population declined
                        about 59 percent; and the supervised release population increased about
                        648 percent. Overall, the parole and supervised release—i.e.,
                        postprison—population rose 94 percent in the period.15




                        13
                          See table III.1 for actual numbers.
                        14
                         According to AOUSC, the number of probation officers increased about 46 percent during fiscal years
                        1990 through 1996.
                        15
                          See table III.2 for actual numbers.



                        Page 6                 GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                    B-274290




Figure 1: Trends in the Federal
Community Supervision Population,   Number of offenders
Fiscal Years 1990-1996              90000

                                    80000

                                    70000

                                    60000

                                    50000

                                    40000

                                    30000

                                    20000

                                    10000

                                        0

                                        1990              1991           1992              1993       1994           1995            1996

                                        Fiscal year

                                                      Offenders under probation
                                                      Offenders under supervised release
                                                      Offenders under parolea
                                                      All offenders under community supervision


                                    a
                                    Included in the category of parole are mandatory release, military parole, and special parole.


                                    Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.


                                    Additionally, as figure 2 shows, the distribution of this population for the
                                    three major types of supervision—probation, parole, and supervised
                                    release—changed considerably.




                                    Page 7                 GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                     B-274290




Figure 2: Distribution of the
Community Supervision Population     100        Percent of offenders serving a term of community supervision
Among the Three Types of
                                      90
Supervision, Fiscal Years 1990 and
1996                                  80

                                      70
                                                   64.8

                                      60
                                                                                                                              51.6
                                      50

                                      40                                                                38.1


                                      30                      27.5


                                      20
                                                                                                                10.3
                                      10                                     7.6


                                          0
                                                                               e




                                                                                                                                 e
                                                   on




                                                                                                        on
                                                               le




                                                                                                                 le
                                                                             as




                                                                                                                              as
                                                              ro




                                                                                                               ro
                                                ati




                                                                                                       ati
                                                                           ele




                                                                                                                             ele
                                                             Pa




                                                                                                               Pa
                                               ob




                                                                                                       ob
                                                                          dr




                                                                                                                            dr
                                              Pr




                                                                                                   Pr
                                                                        se




                                                                                                                         se
                                                                     rvi




                                                                                                                       rvi
                                                                     pe




                                                                                                                       pe
                                                                   Su




                                                                                                                    Su
                                          Type of supervision
                                              FY 1990                                             FY 1996


                                                          Trend in community supervision showing the
                                                          increased use of supervised release.



                                     Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                     Despite the growth in the community supervision population, figure 3
                                     shows that the distribution of offenders on supervision for the major crime
                                     types—violent, white collar, drugs, and all other—did not change
                                     significantly.16




                                     16
                                      Using AOUSC criminal offense classifications, we categorized offense types into violent, white collar,
                                     drugs, and all other. Violent offenses include homicide, robbery, assault, and weapons and firearms.
                                     White collar offenses include embezzlement and fraud. All other offenses include burglary, larceny,
                                     auto theft, forgery and counterfeiting, immigration, liquor/tax, postal, traffic, and other related
                                     offenses.



                                     Page 8                             GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                      B-274290




Figure 3: Distribution of the
Community Supervision Population by   Percentage of offenders
Type of Offense Committed, Fiscal     40
Years 1992-1996
                                      35


                                      30


                                      25


                                      20


                                      15


                                      10


                                       5


                                       0

                                           1992                         1993                1994                 1995                  1996

                                           Fiscal year

                                                         Drugs
                                                         Violent
                                                         White collar
                                                         All other



                                      Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                      Between fiscal years 1992 and 1996,17 the largest group of convicted
                                      offenders on supervision were drug offenders. These offenders increased
                                      moderately from about 32 percent of the total supervision population in
                                      fiscal year 1992 to over 38 percent in fiscal year 1996.18 Offenders
                                      convicted of white collar crimes remained relatively unchanged at
                                      between 27 and 28 percent of the supervision population. Together,
                                      offenders in these two crime categories accounted for more than
                                      60 percent of all offenders on supervision for each year during this
                                      period.19

                                      17
                                        Fiscal year 1992 was the earliest year for which complete data were available.
                                      18
                                        BOP reported that, between fiscal years 1992 and 1996, drug offenders comprised about 60 percent of
                                      all federal offenders in BOP prisons.
                                      19
                                        See table III.3 for actual numbers.



                                      Page 9                         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                         B-274290




BOP Projections of Trends                BOP provided us with estimates of the number of offenders serving prison
in Community Supervision                 terms as of September 30, 1996, who are scheduled to be released from
                                         prison to community supervision between fiscal years 1997 and 2001.
                                         These estimates include those offenders sentenced prior to the sentencing
                                         guidelines who are scheduled to enter the parole program and those
                                         offenders who were sentenced under the sentencing guidelines and are to
                                         enter the supervised release program. BOP provided its estimates of release
                                         by the major offense category for which the offender was originally
                                         convicted and sentenced—drugs, violent, homicide, white collar, and all
                                         others.

                                         As shown in table 1, BOP estimates that the number of offenders released
                                         on parole will continue to decline, while the number of offenders released
                                         to the supervised release program will continue to increase. In fiscal years
                                         1997 through 2001, BOP expects that about 55,700 of the offenders who
                                         were inmates as of September 30, 1996, will be released to a term of
                                         supervised release and about 5,200 released on parole. Over 70 percent of
                                         these approximately 61,000 offenders were convicted of violent or
                                         drug-related crimes.


Table 1: Estimated Number of BOP Inmates Serving Prison Terms as of September 30, 1996, by Offense Committed, to Be
Released in Fiscal Years 1997-2001
                             Preguidelines offendersa                        Sentencing guidelines offendersb
Offense          1997     1998    1999         2000       2001       Total       1997          1998   1999      2000       2001       Total
Violent           865      408     272          185         135      1,865      2,971      2,207      1,702    1,411         917      9,208
Homicide           48       30      26            18         27        149          56          37      32         27         25           177
White collar      306      126      69            31         17        549      3,474      1,167       480       222         122      5,465
Drugs             846      362     259          143         125      1,735     10,242      7,139      5,756    4,891      3,811     31,839
Other             386      195     106          100          69        856      5,004      1,894       971       673         445      8,987
Total            2,451    1,121    732          477         373      5,154     21,747     12,444      8,941    7,224      5,320     55,676
                                         Note: The actual number of offenders who may be released to postprison supervision during
                                         fiscal years 1997-2001 would include those shown in the table above plus the total number of
                                         offenders who will be sentenced to and will complete their prison terms during these years. BOP
                                         could provide release estimates only for those offenders in BOP custody as of September 30,
                                         1996.
                                         a
                                         Offenders to be released to parole.
                                         b
                                             Offenders to be released to supervised release.

                                         Source: BOP.




                                         Page 10                  GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                      B-274290




                      As previously noted, AOUSC has indicated that workload can be affected by
Offenders With More   the extent to which offenders had serious criminal histories. A 1993 BOP
Serious Criminal      report on a sample of inmates released from BOP prisons suggests that an
Histories May Have    offender’s criminal history score is related to the risk of recidivism.20 The
                      higher the criminal history category the greater the risk of recidivism.
Higher Risk of        Criminal history is also one of the variables in the risk-assessment scale
Recidivism            probation officers use to determine the level of supervision an offender on
                      community supervision may require.21 The inmates released from BOP
                      prisons in fiscal years 1997 through 2001 may include a greater number of
                      higher risk offenders than the population released through fiscal year
                      1996.

                      Since the sentencing guidelines apply to all offenses committed on or after
                      November 1, 1987, only a very small percentage of offenders have been
                      sentenced under the preguidelines system in the 1990s. Offenders
                      sentenced under the preguidelines system may apply for release on parole
                      after serving one-third of their sentence.22 Thus, offenders remaining in
                      prison in fiscal year 1996 or later under the preguidelines system are likely
                      to be those who have received long sentences, which are usually
                      associated with more serious crimes; have been denied parole because of
                      behavioral problems in prison that may heighten the risk they pose to the
                      community once released; or both. According to AOUSC officials, such
                      offenders may pose a higher risk of recidivism than offenders with shorter
                      sentences who were released after serving one-third of their sentences.

                      Offenders sentenced under the guidelines and released after fiscal year
                      1996 are likely to include more offenders with extensive criminal histories
                      who have received longer sentences and who thus may pose a higher risk
                      of recidivism than those released before fiscal year 1996. Under the
                      guidelines, offenders are assigned a criminal history category based on the
                      extent of their prior criminal behavior. The categories range from I, for
                      those with virtually no prior criminal history, to VI, for those with the most
                      serious criminal history. Offenders with more serious criminal histories


                      20
                       Miles D. Harer, Recidivism Among Federal Inmates in 1987: A Preliminary Report, Bureau of Prisons,
                      1993, in U.S. Department of Justice, An Analysis of Non-Violent Drug Offenders With Minimal Criminal
                      Histories, February 1994.
                      21
                       In their comments on a draft of this report, AOUSC officials noted that they were implementing a
                      new risk-assessment scale developed by the Federal Judicial Center. The purpose of the new scale,
                      which retains criminal history as one of its variables, is to improve officers’ ability to determine the
                      appropriate level of offender supervision.
                      22
                        For example, an offender who began serving a 10-year prison term in January 1993 would be eligible
                      to apply for parole in April 1996.



                      Page 11               GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                    B-274290




                                    generally receive longer sentences for the same offense than those with
                                    less extensive criminal histories.23

                                    Figure 4 shows that, in fiscal years 1991 through 1995,24 the number of
                                    offenders sentenced in the three most serious criminal history
                                    categories—IV, V, and VI—grew at greater rates than did the number of
                                    offenders with less serious criminal histories.25


Figure 4: Percent Change in the
Number of Offenders Sentenced, by   100      Percent change, fiscal years 1991-1995
Criminal History Category, Fiscal
                                     90
Years 1991-1995
                                     80                                                      76.7

                                     70

                                     60

                                                                                      49.3
                                     50
                                                                            44.2

                                     40

                                                                 29.0
                                     30

                                     20
                                             12.3      12.1
                                     10

                                         0

                                               I         II        III       IV        V      VI
                                               Criminal history category



                                    Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Sentencing Commission data.




                                    23
                                     For example, in fiscal year 1993, the average sentence for an offender convicted of a firearms offense
                                    who was in the least serious criminal history category (I) was 39.2 months. For an offender in the most
                                    serious category (VI), the average sentence for the same offense was 139.3 months.
                                    24
                                      Fiscal year 1996 data were not available.
                                    25
                                      See table III.4 for actual numbers.



                                    Page 12                   GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                       B-274290




                                       Offenders with special conditions may be placed on home confinement
Number of Offenders                    with or without electronic monitoring; be required to participate in drug,
on Community                           alcohol, or mental health treatment or counseling programs; be required to
Supervision With                       perform community service; or receive any combination of these
                                       conditions. As discussed earlier, AOUSC has indicated that workload can be
Special Conditions                     affected by the extent to which offenders had special conditions imposed
Remained Relatively                    on their terms of supervision. Figure 5 shows that, between fiscal years
                                       1992 and 1996, the number of offenders with special conditions remained
Stable                                 relatively stable.


Figure 5: Trends in the Number of
Offenders Under Community              Number of offenders with special conditions
Supervision With Special Conditions,
                                       40000
Fiscal Years 1992-1996
                                       35000


                                       30000


                                       25000


                                       20000


                                       15000


                                       10000


                                        5000


                                           0

                                            1992                     1993                     1994        1995               1996

                                            Fiscal year


                                                          All offenders under community supervision
                                                          Offenders under probation
                                                          Offenders under postprison supervision



                                       Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                       In addition, as shown in greater detail in table 2, the proportion of the total
                                       supervision population with special conditions remained relatively stable
                                       within a range of 42 to 46 percent during the same period.




                                       Page 13                GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                          B-274290




Table 2: Federal Offenders Under Community Supervision With Special Conditions, by Type of Special Condition, Fiscal
Years 1990-1996
                                                               Special conditions
                                                                                                                           Percent of
                                                                                                                                 total
                                                                                                                          supervision
                                                                                                                           population
                                              Substance        Mental                                                            with
                                 Drug              abuse        health            Home        Community                       special
Fiscal year                 treatment          treatment    treatment       confinement          service            Totala conditions
1992                           18,574               4,447        3,307               1,715           7,588          35,631       41.5%
1993                           20,418               4,715        3,808               2,363           8,910          40,214       46.3
1994                           21,338               4,831        4,288               2,349           8,025          40,831       45.8
1995                           18,291               3,864        4,681               2,451           7,428          36,715       42.8
1996                           19,246               3,607        5,163               2,592           7,315          37,923       42.6
                                          a
                                          An offender may be counted in more than one special condition category.

                                          Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.



                                          For each year in this 5-year period, the data showed that about 60 percent
                                          or more of the offenders with special conditions received treatment for
                                          drug or substance abuse.




                                          Page 14            GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
B-274290




As shown in table 3, the proportion of the total supervision population
with special conditions varied within the three major types of supervision.
Specifically, probation offenders with special conditions increased from
about 39 to 50 percent. The percentage on parole decreased from about 44
to 41 percent, while those on supervised release declined from 45 to about
37 percent. The percentage of the parole and supervised release—i.e.,
postprison—population with special conditions decreased from about 45
to 38 percent.




Page 15         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                      B-274290




Table 3: Federal Offenders Under
Community Supervision With Special
Conditions, by Type of Supervision,
Fiscal Years 1992-1996                                                            Probation
                                                                 Number of
                                                            offenders with     Percent of total on    Total offenders on
                                      Fiscal year        special conditions            probation               probation
                                      1992                           18,277                   38.7%              47,208
                                      1993                           21,354                   48.7               43,810
                                      1994                           19,539                   47.3               41,300
                                      1995                           17,257                   48.4               35,679
                                      1996                           16,955                   50.0               33,902




                                      Page 16       GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                          B-274290




                                                     Supervised release
                Parole                                                          Total                     Postprisona
  Number of                              Number of        Percent of       offenders  Number of             Percent of           Total
   offenders    Percent of         Total  offenders         total on              on   offenders               total on   offenders on
 with special     total on    offenders with special     supervised       supervised with special           postprison      postprison
  conditions       parole     on parole  conditions          release         release  conditions           supervision     supervision
       8,572          44.3%     19,350          8,782            45.4%          19,362         17,354             44.8%        38,712
       6,930          41.7      16,629         11,930            45.2           26,384         18,860             43.8         43,013
       6,016          42.0      14,310         15,276            45.6           33,493         21,292             44.5         47,803
       4,329          40.6      10,664         15,129            38.3           39,479         19,458             38.8         50,143
       3,784          41.3        9,153        17,184            37.4           45,911         20,968             38.1         55,064
                                          a
                                          The numbers in this category include parole and supervised release.

                                          Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                          Offenders can be removed from supervision because (1) they violate the
Number of Offenders                       terms of their supervision; or because (2) their term expires, they
on Community                              terminate early, or they terminate for noncriminal-related reasons. As
Supervision Who                           noted earlier, AOUSC has indicated that workload can be affected by the
                                          extent to which offenders violate their terms of supervision. Figure 6
Were Removed for                          shows that, between fiscal years 1990 and 1996, the number of offenders
Violating Their Terms                     removed from supervision for violating the terms of their supervision
                                          increased from 7,360 to 8,922 (about 21 percent).
of Supervision
Increased




                                          Page 17             GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                          B-274290




Figure 6: Trends in the Number of
Offenders Removed From Supervision        Number of offenders
for Violating Their Terms, Fiscal Years
1990-1996
                                          8000

                                          7000

                                          6000

                                          5000

                                          4000

                                          3000

                                          2000

                                          1000

                                             0

                                             1990               1991           1992             1993   1994        1995         1996

                                             Fiscal year

                                                           All offenders under community supervision
                                                           Offenders under probation
                                                           Offenders under postprison supervision



                                          Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                          As shown in more detail in table 4, in fiscal years 1990 through 1996, from
                                          9 to 10 percent of the total federal supervision population were removed
                                          from their supervision annually because they had violated their terms.
                                          During the same period, from about 28 to 31 percent of the total
                                          population were removed from supervision without a violation.




                                          Page 18                GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                     B-274290




Table 4: Federal Offenders Removed
From Supervision, Fiscal Years                      Offenders removed with a               Offenders removed
1990-1996                                                   violation                      without a violation
                                                             Percent of total                   Percent of total Total offenders
                                     Fiscal year      Number on supervision              Number on supervision on supervision
                                     1990                 7,360                  9.1%      23,926                 29.7%             80,592
                                     1991                 7,638                  9.2       24,574                 29.6              83,012
                                     1992                 8,433                  9.8       26,338                 30.7              85,920
                                     1993                 8,297                  9.6       25,493                 29.4              86,823
                                     1994                 8,199                  9.2       24,848                 27.9              89,103
                                     1995                 8,797                 10.3       25,937                 30.2              85,822
                                     1996                 8,922                 10.0       27,202                 30.6              88,966
                                     Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.



                                     Table 5 shows that, in fiscal years 1990 through 1996, violation rates26
                                     remained relatively constant for probation and parole offenders, from 6 to
                                     7 and 14 to 18 percent, respectively. After an initial jump from over 5 to
                                     nearly 12 percent from fiscal year 1990 to 1992, the violation rate for
                                     supervised release offenders remained relatively unchanged at about
                                     11 percent.27 Parole and supervised release—i.e., postprison—offenders
                                     had violation rates over 60 percent higher than that for offenders on
                                     probation.




                                     26
                                       For each category of supervision—probation, parole, or supervised release—the violation rate is
                                     defined as the percentage of all offenders on supervision during the fiscal year who were removed for
                                     a violation of the terms of their supervision.
                                     27
                                       For the reasons noted in footnote 11, the number of persons on supervised release was relatively
                                     small in 1990, and those on supervised release were likely to be offenders sentenced to short prison
                                     terms.



                                     Page 19               GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                        B-274290




Table 5: Federal Offenders Removed
From Supervision With a Violation, by
Type of Supervision, Fiscal Years                                                Probation offenders
1990-1996                                                                         Percent of total on
                                        Fiscal year         Number removed                probation      Total probation
                                        1990                             3,186                   6.1%             52,266
                                        1991                             3,005                   6.1              49,399
                                        1992                             2,873                   6.1              47,208
                                        1993                             2,733                   6.2              43,810
                                        1994                             2,569                   6.2              41,300
                                        1995                             2,586                   7.3              35,679
                                        1996                             2,488                   7.3              33,902




                                        Page 20       GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                      B-274290




                                            Supervised release offenders                           Postprison offendersa
         Parole offenders                         Percent of total            Total                  Percent of total
  Number Percent of total     Total    Number      on supervised         supervised       Number      on postprison            Total
 removed      on parole      parole   removed             release           release      removed        supervision       postprison
    3,836            17.3%   22,188        338                 5.5%             6,138        4,174                14.7%       28,326
    3,348            15.5    21,664       1,285               10.8             11,949        4,633                13.8        33,613
    3,254            16.8    19,350       2,306               11.9             19,362        5,560                14.4        38,712
    2,642            15.9    16,629       2,922               11.1             26,384        5,564                12.9        43,013
    2,055            14.4    14,310       3,575               10.7             33,493        5,630                11.8        47,803
    1,925            18.1    10,664       4,286               10.9             39,479        6,211                12.4        51,143
    1,513            16.5     9,153       4,921               10.7             45,911        6,434                11.7        55,064
                                      a
                                       The numbers in this category include offenders on parole and supervised release.

                                      Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.



                                      Offenders can be removed from supervision for committing one of three
                                      types of violations: major, minor, or technical. In fiscal years 1990 through
                                      1996, a higher percentage of postprison—i.e, parole and supervised
                                      release—offenders were removed for major violations (from 23 to
                                      29 percent) than were offenders on probation (from 16 to 18 percent).
                                      Overall, technical violations accounted for an average of about 70 percent
                                      of all offenders removed for violations annually in fiscal years 1990
                                      through 1996. During the same period, an average of about 8 percent were
                                      removed for committing a minor violation, while an average of 23 percent
                                      were removed for committing a major violation.


                                      On July 17, 1997, AOUSC provided us with written technical comments and
Agency Comments                       clarifications on a draft of this report, which we incorporated into the
                                      report where appropriate. AOUSC generally agreed with the contents of the
                                      draft report.


                                      We are providing copies of this report to the Director of AOUSC and other
                                      interested parties. Copies will be made available to others upon request.




                                      Page 21              GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
B-274290




The major contributors to this report are listed in appendix IV. Please
contact me on (202) 512-3610 if you or your staff have any questions.




Norman J. Rabkin
Director, Administration
  of Justice Issues




Page 22         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Page 23   GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Contents



Letter                                                                                                 1


Appendix I                                                                                            26

Objectives, Scope,
and Methodology
Appendix II                                                                                           28

Description of the
Federal Community
Supervision Process
Appendix III                                                                                          35

Changes in the
Federal Community
Supervision
Population
Appendix IV                                                                                           38

List of Major
Contributors to This
Report
Glossary                                                                                              39


Tables                 Table 1: Estimated Number of BOP Inmates Serving Prison Terms                  10
                         as of September 30, 1996, by Offense Committed, to Be Released
                         in Fiscal Years 1997-2001
                       Table 2: Federal Offenders Under Community Supervision With                    14
                         Special Conditions, by Type of Special Condition, Fiscal Years
                         1990-1996
                       Table 3: Federal Offenders Under Community Supervision With                    16
                         Special Conditions, by Type of Supervision, Fiscal Years
                         1992-1996
                       Table 4: Federal Offenders Removed From Supervision, Fiscal                    19
                         Years 1990-1996




                       Page 24        GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
          Contents




          Table 5: Federal Offenders Removed From Supervision With a                      20
            Violation, by Type of Supervision, Fiscal Years 1990-1996
          Table III.1: Federal Prison and Community Supervision                           35
            Populations, Fiscal Years 1990-1996
          Table III.2: Trends in the Federal Community Supervision                        36
            Population, by Type of Supervision, Fiscal Years 1990-1996
          Table III.3: Trends in the Community Supervision Population, by                 36
            Type of Offense Committed, Fiscal Years 1992-1996
          Table III.4: Number of Offenders Sentenced Each Year, by                        37
            Criminal History Category, Fiscal Years 1991-1995

Figures   Figure 1: Trends in the Federal Community Supervision                            7
            Population, Fiscal Years 1990-1996
          Figure 2: Distribution of the Community Supervision Population                   8
            Among the Three Types of Supervision, Fiscal Years 1990 and
            1996
          Figure 3: Distribution of the Community Supervision Population                   9
            by Type of Offense Committed, Fiscal Years 1992-1996
          Figure 4: Percent Change in the Number of Offenders Sentenced,                  12
            by Criminal History Category, Fiscal Years 1991-1995
          Figure 5: Trends in the Number of Offenders Under Community                     13
            Supervision With Special Conditions, Fiscal Years 1992-1996
          Figure 6: Trends in the Number of Offenders Removed From                        18
            Supervision for Violating Their Terms, Fiscal Years 1990-1996
          Figure II.1: The Community Supervision Process for Offenders on                 29
            Probation
          Figure II.2: The Community Supervision Process for Offenders on                 31
            Parole
          Figure II.3: The Community Supervision Process for Offenders on                 33
            Supervised Release




          Abbreviations

          AOUSC      Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
          BOP        Bureau of Prisons
          USPC       United States Parole Commission


          Page 25         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


              We initiated this assignment to provide Congress with information on the
              size and growth of the community supervision population as a result of the
              implementation of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. Our overall
              objective was to identify changes in the federal community supervision
              population that could affect probation officers’ workload. Specifically, we
              determined trends in (1) the growth of the total supervision population
              and any changes in the composition of that population by type of
              supervision; (2) the number of offenders who had special conditions
              imposed on their term of supervision, such as home confinement or drug
              treatment; and (3) the number of persons who were removed from
              supervision for violating the terms of their supervision.

              To develop information on the growth trends in the supervision
              population, we obtained AOUSC annual reports for fiscal years 1990 through
              1996 and other documents. The data for these reports were derived from
              AOUSC’s Federal Probation Supervision Information System. We also
              analyzed AOUSC statistics on the number of individuals currently under
              supervision, the number removed from supervision—with and without a
              violation—and the principal reasons for their removal, for fiscal years 1990
              through 1996. We chose fiscal year 1990 as our base year because it was
              the first full year in which the federal sentencing guidelines were
              implemented on a national basis.

              To obtain some data on potential future trends in the postprison
              community supervision population, we reviewed BOP’s estimates of the
              number of inmates who were expected to be released to community
              supervision in fiscal years 1997 through 2001. BOP estimated release dates
              for inmates in its prisons as of September 30, 1996. BOP provided these
              estimates by major offense for inmates sentenced under the preguidelines
              (parole) and guidelines (supervised release) sentencing rules. These data
              did not include estimates of the number of inmates who may be sentenced
              to prison and subsequently released in the years 1997 through 2001. BOP
              could not provide estimates of this population until its revision of its
              prison population projection model is complete. BOP said that these data
              were derived from its management information system, SENTRY. In
              addition, we analyzed data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s annual
              reports for fiscal years 1991 through 1995 on the average length of




              Page 26         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




imprisonment for offenders sentenced, by criminal history category.1
These data were derived from the Commission’s MONFY data file, which
contains sentencing information on offenders sentenced under the
guidelines.

To describe the special conditions that may be imposed on supervisees,
we analyzed information provided by AOUSC on special conditions for fiscal
years 1992 through 1996, as well as the per diem cost of administering
each condition. This information included the number of offenders who
had received each type of treatment or who had been placed on electronic
monitoring or community service in each of these years. It is possible for
an offender to be counted in more than one of these categories, but the
data AOUSC provided did not identify how many offenders had more than
one special condition or the duration for which a special condition was
imposed.

To obtain information on the number of offenders removed from
supervision with and without violations, we obtained and analyzed AOUSC
annual reports on removals.

We did not conduct an independent assessment of the databases or of the
policies and procedures used to assess and ensure their reliability and
validity.




1
 Some offenders in criminal history category VI are classified as “career offenders.” The 1990 annual
report did not report separately the number of category VI offenders who were classified as career
offenders or their average sentences. The annual reports for fiscal years 1991 through 1995 do provide
separate data on category VI offenders who were classified as career offenders. Thus, for comparative
purposes, we excluded from our analysis fiscal year 1990. In addition, at the time of our analysis, fiscal
year 1996 data were not available.



Page 27               GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Appendix II

Description of the Federal Community
Supervision Process

              Community supervision consists of three major programs: probation,
              parole, and supervised release. Persons on probation have usually been
              sentenced directly to probation at sentencing and may begin their term of
              probation immediately after sentencing. Persons on parole and supervised
              release enter community supervision after serving a term of imprisonment.
              The following sections describe how individual offenders proceed through
              the community supervision program.


              Prior to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, a term of probation operated
Probation     as a suspended sentence. Under the terms of the act, as reflected in the
              federal sentencing guidelines, probation is a separate sentence that may
              have elements of punishment, incapacitation, deterrence, and correctional
              treatment.

              Special conditions that may be imposed as part of a sentence of probation
              include home confinement with or without electronic monitoring;
              participation in drug, alcohol, or mental health treatment or counseling
              programs; community service; or any combination of these conditions.
              The judge may impose some special conditions as part of the sentence,
              and the probation officer may impose additional conditions as part of the
              supervision plan prepared for each offender. In addition to special
              conditions, there are mandatory conditions of supervision that apply to all
              offenders. These include prohibitions on (1) committing another federal,
              state, or local crime during the term of probation; (2) possessing a firearm;
              and (3) possessing controlled substances. In addition, the judge may order
              the offender to pay a fine and/or restitution as part of the sentence.

              As figure II.1 indicates, if the offender does not violate the conditions set
              by the court or imposed by the probation officer during his or her term of
              probation, the offender is to be released at the end of the term.




              Page 28         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                       Appendix II
                                       Description of the Federal Community
                                       Supervision Process




Figure II.1: The Community
Supervision Process for Offenders on
Probation                                                       Offender                   Court sets term of probation
                                                               sentenced                   and conditions of supervision




                                                                Offender
                                                     No          violates      Yes
                                                               conditions?



                                                                                      Violation
                                          Offender                                                           Conditions
                                                                                   1. Minor
                                         completes                                                           modified by
                                                                                   2. Major
                                         probation                                                            probation
                                                                                   3. Technical
                                                                                                                officer



                                          Offender            Conditions              Probation
                                          released            modified               revoked by
                                                                  by                    court
                                                                courts


                                                                                    Offender
                                                                                   enters BOP
                                                                                     facility


                                       Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                       If, however, the offender violates a condition or a set of conditions, the
                                       probation officer may report the offense to the court and recommend that
                                       probation be revoked and the offender be incarcerated. The court then
                                       determines whether the offender will be incarcerated. In the case of a new
                                       felony or misdemeanor, the offender may be tried for a new crime.

                                       Not all violations lead to court hearings. For example, instances of
                                       noncompliance may be addressed initially through an administrative case
                                       conference involving the deputy chief probation officer or supervising




                                       Page 29            GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
         Appendix II
         Description of the Federal Community
         Supervision Process




         probation officer, the probation officer, and the offender. The conference
         is to involve a complete review of the case and consideration of possible
         interventions or sanctions, including community service, drug or alcohol
         in-patient treatment, and electronically monitored home confinement. For
         these sanctions to be imposed, the offender must waive his or her right to
         counsel and a hearing.


         Figure II.2 shows that offenders imprisoned under the presentencing
Parole   guidelines system can be released on parole after serving a portion of their
         prison terms. These offenders committed crimes prior to November 1,
         1987. Offenders who exhibit good behavior while in prison may be
         released on parole after serving as little as one-third of their prison terms.
         The United States Parole Commission (USPC) determines whether and
         when an offender will be granted parole.




         Page 30           GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                       Appendix II
                                       Description of the Federal Community
                                       Supervision Process




Figure II.2: The Community
Supervision Process for Offenders on
Parole                                                      Offender sentenced                 Court imposes prison term
                                                                                              and any conditions of release


                                                           Offender enters BOP


                                                     Completes at least 1/3 sentence


                                                                                     No
                                                            Offender paroled?
                                                                       Yes



                                                                                                           Released after serving
                                                                                Remains in prison              full prison term

                                                           USPC sets conditions




                                                     No           Offender           Yes
                                                            violates conditions?


                                         Offender completes parole                   Violation
                                                                                   1. Minor
                                                                                   2. Major
                                                                                   3. Technical
                                             Offender released



                                                           Parole revoked by USPC          Conditions modified by USPC


                                                          Offender returned to prison


                                       Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                       As is the case with probation, mandatory and special conditions may be
                                       imposed on parolees. Offenders convicted of crimes committed before




                                       Page 31            GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                     Appendix II
                     Description of the Federal Community
                     Supervision Process




                     November 1, 1987, may receive a sentence of incarceration followed by a
                     period of parole. Offenders receiving prison terms must complete a
                     minimum of one-third of the sentence before they are eligible for parole to
                     the community. Some offenders are not paroled to the community because
                     the USPC deems them to be a risk to the community. These offenders are to
                     remain in prison until they have served their entire sentence, less a
                     minimum period for community supervision. They are then released to the
                     community under mandatory release.1

                     After an offender has served one-third of the sentence, USPC may approve
                     parole and impose special and mandatory conditions. If the offender does
                     not violate any of the conditions, he or she completes supervision. If,
                     however, the offender violates a condition or a set of conditions, USPC can
                     either modify the conditions of supervision by making them more
                     restrictive or revoke parole and have the offender reincarcerated. In the
                     event the offender has committed a new crime, he or she may be
                     prosecuted for the offense.


                     Offenders who committed offenses on or after November 1, 1987, may be
Supervised Release   given both a term of imprisonment and a term of supervised release by the
                     sentencing judge. The offender serves his or her entire prison sentence,
                     less a maximum reduction of 54 days per year for satisfactory behavior. As
                     in the cases of probation and parole, the supervised release offender is
                     also assigned mandatory and, if needed, special conditions. Figure II.3
                     shows that mandatory and special conditions may be imposed by the
                     sentencing judge, as well as by the probation officer, in cases where the
                     need for a special condition has arisen after sentencing. The conditions
                     imposed by the probation officer may have been specified in the
                     prerelease plan developed by BOP prior to the offender’s release from
                     prison. The probation officer may also determine that special conditions
                     are required when preparing the supervision plan or when monitoring the
                     offender’s behavior while on supervised release.




                     1
                      As a form of release from prison mandated by statute, and which has been phased out under the
                     Sentencing Reform Act, mandatory release can be distinguished from either probation or parole in that
                     mandatory releasees essentially are denied regular parole because they are dangerous offenders or
                     committed serious acts. The statute provided for release 180 days prior to the expiration of the
                     prisoner’s sentence to allow for a minimal period of supervision.



                     Page 32              GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                                 Appendix II
                                                 Description of the Federal Community
                                                 Supervision Process




Figure II.3: The Community Supervision Process for Offenders on Supervised Release

                  Offender sentenced                      Court sets term of supervised
                                                      release and conditions of supervision


          Preguidelines      Postguidelines                                     BOP prepares
                                                                                 prerelease
                                                                                     plan
    Offender                                                                     for offender              Offender
                                           Offender
  completes at                                                                                            assigned
                                          completes
    least 1/3                                                                                             conditions
                                         full sentence
    sentence                                                                  Probation officer
                                                                                 prepares a
                                                                              supervision plan
                                                                              for the offender a
                        Offender serves term of supervised release




                            No              Offender           Yes
                                      violates conditions?



                 Offender completes                              Violation
                 supervised release                            1. Minor
                                                               2. Major
                                                               3. Technical
                     Offender
                     released

                                                     No          Offender          Yes
                                                              charged with
                                                                violation?

                                      Conditions modified                         Hearing held
                                      by probation officer


                                                 Supervised release term revoked by court          Conditions modified
                                                                                                         by court

                                                           Offender returns to prison
                                                 a
                                                  The conditions imposed by the probation officer may have been specified in the prerelease plan
                                                 developed by BOP prior to the offender’s release from prison. The probation officer may also
                                                 determine that special conditions are required when preparing the supervision plan or when
                                                 monitoring the offender’s behavior while on supervised release.

                                                 Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.




                                                 Page 33              GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Appendix II
Description of the Federal Community
Supervision Process




If the offender does not violate any of the conditions, he or she can
complete supervision as planned. If, however, he or she violates the
conditions, the probation officer can exercise some discretion in either
modifying the special conditions or referring the case to the court for
disposition. Unlike parole, where revocation and reincarceration decisions
can be made by USPC, in the case of supervised release, these decisions are
made by the district court. In the event the offender has committed a new
crime, he or she may be prosecuted for the offense.

As previously outlined in the discussion of probation, not all infractions
are reported to the courts or result in revocation of supervision. The
probation officer has some discretion in deciding whether to refer a case
to the court or to an administrative case conference.




Page 34           GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Appendix III

Changes in the Federal Community
Supervision Population

                                     As shown in table III.1, the federal community supervision population rose
                                     by about 10 percent between fiscal years 1990 and 1996. The
                                     corresponding population growth in the federal prison system1 was about
                                     63 percent, from 58,021 in fiscal year 1990 to 94,695 in fiscal year 1996.2

Table III.1: Federal Prison and
Community Supervision Populations,                                               Total federal prison        Total federal community
Fiscal Years 1990-1996               Fiscal year                                          population          supervision population
                                     1990                                                       58,021                            80,592
                                     1991                                                       64,131                            83,012
                                     1992                                                       70,670                            85,920
                                     1993                                                       79,799                            86,823
                                     1994                                                       85,850                            89,103
                                     1995                                                       90,159                            85,822
                                     1996                                                       94,695                            88,966
                                     Percent change, fiscal years
                                     1990-1996                                                     63.2%                              10.4%
                                     Source: GAO analysis of BOP and AOUSC data.



                                     Table III.2 shows that, from fiscal years 1990 to 1996, the probation and
                                     parole populations decreased about 35 and 59 percent, respectively; while
                                     the supervised release population increased 648 percent. Overall, the
                                     postprison population increased 94 percent during the same period.




                                     1
                                      Includes only inmates in BOP facilities. BOP also supervises inmates in community corrections
                                     centers, contract detention centers, other contract facilities, and home confinement.
                                     2
                                      The disparity between the growth in the prison population and the slower growth in the supervision
                                     population reflects the effect of the sentencing guidelines on sentences. Longer sentences combined
                                     with the requirement that inmates serve at least 85 percent of their sentences have resulted in a
                                     growing BOP population of older inmates.



                                     Page 35              GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                          Appendix III
                                          Changes in the Federal Community
                                          Supervision Population




Table III.2: Trends in the Federal
Community Supervision Population,                                                                                 Supervised
by Type of Supervision, Fiscal Years      Fiscal year                        Probation              Parole           release        Postprisona
1990-1996                                 1990                                    52,266            22,188               6,138               28,326
                                          1991                                    49,399            21,664             11,949                33,613
                                          1992                                    47,208            19,350             19,362                38,712
                                          1993                                    43,810            16,629             26,384                43,013
                                          1994                                    41,300            14,310             33,493                47,803
                                          1995                                    35,679            10,664             39,479                50,143
                                          1996                                    33,902              9,153            45,911                55,064
                                          Percent change,
                                          fiscal years 1990-1996                    (35.1)%            (58.7)%         648.0%                  94.4%
                                          a
                                          The numbers in this category include offenders on parole and supervised release.

                                          Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.



                                          Table III.3 shows the distribution of offenders on community supervision
                                          for the major crime types. As shown, drug offenders, who accounted for
                                          the largest number of offenders on community supervision, increased from
                                          nearly 32 percent of the total community supervision population in fiscal
                                          year 1992 to about 38 percent in fiscal year 1996.


Table III.3: Trends in the Community Supervision Population, by Type of Offense Committed, Fiscal Years 1992-1996
                                                          Type of offense committed
                            Drugs                        Violent                        White collar                        All othera
                                 Percent of                     Percent of                        Percent of                         Percent of
                  Number of        total on Number of             total on Number of                total on Number of                 total on
Fiscal year        offenders    supervision offenders          supervision offenders             supervision offenders              supervision
1992                  27,346           31.8%        8,138                 9.5%       24,324                28.3%       26,112                  30.4%
1993                  28,677           33.0         8,422                 9.7        24,630                28.4        25,094                  28.9
1994                  30,586           34.3         8,630                 9.7        25,136                28.2        24,751                  27.8
1995                  31,193           36.4         8,315                 9.7        23,870                27.8        22,444                  26.2
1996                  34,046           38.3         8,728                 9.8        23,838                26.8        22,354                  25.1
                                          a
                                            This category includes burglary, larceny, auto theft, forgery and counterfeiting, immigration,
                                          liquor/tax, postal, traffic, and other related offenses.

                                          Source: GAO analysis of AOUSC data.



                                          Table III.4 shows the number of offenders sentenced each year, by
                                          criminal history category, in fiscal years 1991 through 1995. As shown, the
                                          number of offenders sentenced each year in the three most serious



                                          Page 36               GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
                                   Appendix III
                                   Changes in the Federal Community
                                   Supervision Population




                                   criminal history categories (IV, V, and VI) grew at greater rates than those
                                   for offenders with lesser criminal histories.

Table III.4: Number of Offenders
Sentenced Each Year, by Criminal                            Number of offenders sentenced by criminal history category
History Category, Fiscal Years                             I            II            III       IV        V             VI
1991-1995                          Year sentenced          (0 or 1)a    (2 or 3)a     (4-6)a    (7-9)a    (10-12)a      (13 or more)b
                                   1991                    13,194       3,014         3,257     1,721     1,007         1,350
                                   1992                    15,101       3,451         3,714     1,956     1,236         1,584
                                   1993                    17,070       3,693         4,187     2,303     1,378         2,005
                                   1994                    15,457       3,616         4,278     2,374     1,373         2,338
                                   1995                    14,818       3,379         4,202     2,482     1,503         2,385
                                   Percent change,         12.3%        12.1%         29.0%     44.2%     49.3%         76.7%
                                   fiscal years
                                   1991-1995
                                   a
                                   Numbers in parenthesis are the range of criminal history points for each category.
                                   b
                                    Numbers in category VI exclude offenders classified as career criminals, whose average
                                   sentence in each year exceeded 193 months.

                                   Source: U.S. Sentencing Commission annual reports.




                                   Page 37             GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Appendix IV

List of Major Contributors to This Report


                        William O. Jenkins, Jr., Assistant Director, Administration of
General Government        Justice Issues
Division                Anthony L. Hill, Evaluator-in-Charge
                        Brenda I. Rabinowitz, Evaluator
                        David P. Alexander, Senior Social Science Analyst
                        Pamela V. Williams, Communications Analyst
                        Katherine M. Wheeler, Publishing Advisor
                        Michelle D. Wiggins, Issue Area Assistant


                        Jan B. Montgomery, Assistant General Counsel
Office of the General
Counsel




                        Page 38         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Glossary


Mandatory Release    A form of release from prison mandated by statute, which has been phased
                     out by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. Mandatory release can be
                     distinguished from either probation or parole in that mandatory releasees
                     essentially are denied regular parole because they are dangerous offenders
                     or have committed serious acts. The statute provided for release 180 days
                     prior to the expiration of the prisoner’s sentence to allow for a minimal
                     period of supervision.


Military Parole      A form of early release from a military prison through the exercise of
                     discretion by the United States Parole Commission (USPC) and the
                     operation of the good-time laws that were in effect before the Sentencing
                     Reform Act of 1984.


Parole               A form of early release from prison through the exercise of discretion by
                     the USPC and the operation of the good-time laws that were in effect before
                     the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. Parole can be distinguished from
                     either probation or supervised release in that parolees are released from
                     custody early but remain in the legal custody of the Attorney General
                     while in the community. If parole is revoked, the parolee may be returned
                     to custody to continue serving the sentence. Prisoners can be released
                     again to parole and reincarcerated until the maximum sentence imposed
                     has been served.


Probation            A sentence to supervision in the community by a probation officer. In
                     addition to some mandatory conditions, other conditions may apply. The
                     maximum term of probation supervision varies by offense class.


Special Parole       An additional term of supervision, which has been phased out by the
                     Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. A term of special parole begins upon
                     completion of any period on parole or mandatory release supervision from
                     the regular sentence. If the prisoner is released by expiration of good time
                     without any supervision, the special parole term begins upon such release.


Supervised Release   Following completion of the offender’s term of imprisonment, a period of
                     supervision in the community imposed by a judge at the time of
                     sentencing. In addition to some mandatory conditions, other conditions
                     may apply. Under the sentencing guidelines, the court must order



                     Page 39         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
           Glossary




           supervised release to follow any term of imprisonment that exceeds 1 year
           or if required by a specific statute. The court may order supervised release
           to follow imprisonment in any other case. The maximum term of
           supervised release varies by offense class. Offenders on supervised release
           are supervised by probation officers.




(188627)   Page 40         GAO/GGD-97-110 Trends in Community Supervision of Federal Offenders
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 6015
Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

http://www.gao.gov




PRINTED ON    RECYCLED PAPER
United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested