Fewer people were incarcerated or under community supervision — meaning on parole or probation — in the United States in 2020 than in 2010. The total correctional population dropped from 7.1 million to 5.5 million during that period. The incarcerated population had the largest decline, falling by almost 19 percent between 2019 and 2020 alone. The falloff in the correctional population in 2020 was due to fewer arrests during COVID-19 lockdowns, occasional emptying of jails of lower-risk prisoners to limit coronavirus outbreaks and court backlogs due to the pandemic.

Source: “Report: Number of persons under the supervision of adult correctional systems in the United States, 2010-2020,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, March 10, 2022, https://tinyurl.com/3fnzs33z

Data for the graphic are as follows:

Year Total Correctional Population Community Supervision Incarcerated Population
2010 7.1 million 4.9 Million 2.3 Million
2011 7.0 million 4.8 Million 2.2 Million
2012 7.0 million 4.8 Million 2.2 Million
2013 6.9 million 4.7 Million 2.2 Million
2014 6.8 million 4.7 Million 2.2 Million
2015 6.7 million 4.7 Million 2.2 Million
2016 6.6 million 4.5 Million 2.2 Million
2017 6.5 million 4.5 Million 2.1 Million
2018 6.4 million 4.4 Million 2.1 Million
2019 6.3 million 4.4 Million 2.1 Million
2020 5.5 million 3.9 Million 1.7 Million

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