The number of adults under criminal justice supervision continued its long decline in 2016, according to new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The total correctional population dropped by almost 63,000 adults, reflecting decreases in both the incarcerated (jail or prison) and community supervision (probation or parole) populations.
After growing for decades, the correctional population hit its historical zenith in 2007 when 3,210 of every 100,000 adults (3.21 percent of the entire adult population) were either behind bars or under community supervision.
2016 was the ninth straight year the country and its criminal justice system decreased the number of people under supervision. BJS records indicate that the proportion of U.S. adults who were in the correctional system at the end of 2016 was as low as it had been since 1993.
A smaller correctional population is a dividend of lower crime rates combined with a national wave of sentencing and rehabilitation reforms at the state level. Because the current generation of adolescents and adults is committing significantly less crime than did prior generations at their age, there will be ample opportunity to shrink the correctional system even further in the coming years.