Federal Offenders:

Trends in Community Supervision

GGD-97-110: Published: Aug 13, 1997. Publicly Released: Aug 13, 1997.

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GAO reviewed the trends in the number of federal offenders serving terms of community supervision during fiscal years 1990 through 1996, focusing on: (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.

GAO noted that: (1) the total population of federal offenders under community supervision rose 10 percent during fiscal years 1990 and 1996; (2) 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; (3) specifically, the probation population decreased about 35 percent, while those on postprison supervision rose 94 percent; (4) the increase in the postprison supervision population is entirely due to the large increase in the number of offenders on supervised release; (5) 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; (6) further, available data suggest that inmates released from the Bureau of Prisons 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; (7) the total number of offenders with special conditions remained relatively stable between fiscal years 1992 and 1996; (8) in addition, the total number of offenders removed from supervision for violating their terms of supervision increased by nearly 18 percent between fiscal years 1990 and 1996; (9) to the extent that the trends continue in the: (a) mix of offenders under federal supervision; (b) number of offenders sentenced with more serious criminal histories; and (c) number of offenders removed from supervision due to violations, the workload of probation officers would likely increase; and (10) if the trend in the number of offenders with special conditions remains stable, it would not likely affect the workload of probation officers.

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