Reentry Facts & Trends

Each year, more than 600,000 men and women are released from state and federal prisons. Another 9 million cycle through local jails. When reentry fails, the cost – both societal and economic – are high. Statistics indicate that more than two-thirds of state prisoners are rearrested within 3 years of their release and half are reincarcerated. High rates of recidivism mean more crime, more victims, and more pressure on an already overburdened criminal justice system. The cost of imprisonment also wreaks havoc on state and municipal budgets. In the past 20 years, state spending on corrections has grown at a faster rate than nearly any other state budget item.
The U.S. now spends more than $68 billion on federal, state and local corrections. Because reentry intersects with issues of health and housing, education and employment, family, faith, and community well-being, many agencies are focusing on the reentry population with initiatives that aim to improve outcomes in many areas.

General Reentry Facts

  • State and federal prisons held approximately 1,598,780 prisoners at the end of 2021 - approximately one in every 107 U.S. citizens.
  • At least 95 percent of state prisoners will be released back to their communities at some point.
  • During 2021, 688,384 sentenced prisoners were released from state and federal prisons.
  • Approximately 9 million individuals are released from jail each year.
  • At the end of 2021, 4,814,200 adults – one in fifty U.S. adults – were on probation, parole, or other post-prison supervision. Approximately 853,900 were on parole.
  • In a study that looked at recidivism in over 40 states, more than 4 in 10 offenders returned to state prison within three years of their release.
  • In 2021, parole violators accounted for 30.8 percent of all prison admissions, 33 percent of state admissions, and 7.9 percent of federal admissions.
  • In 2021, approximately 12% of parolees were re-incarcerated. Eight percent of parolees were reincarcerated due to parole violations and revocations, and 3% of parolees were re-incarcerated for new offenses.

Mental Health

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

Substance Abuse

  • Three quarters of those returning from prison have a history of substance use disorders. Over 70 percent of prisoners with serious mental illnesses also have a substance use disorder.
  • In 2014, 53 percent of state and 45 percent of federal prisoners met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for drug abuse and dependence. Nearly a third of state and a quarter of federal prisoners committed their offense under the influence of drugs. Among state prisoners who were dependent on or abusing drugs, 53 percent had at least three prior sentences to probation or incarceration, compared to 32 percent of other inmates. At the time of their arrest, drug dependent or abusing state prisoners (48 percent) were also more likely than other inmates (37 percent) to have been on probation or incarceration sentences.
  • In 2012, 68 percent of jail inmates met DSM criteria for drug abuse or dependence. Half of all convicted jail inmates were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of offense. Inmates who met substance dependence/abuse criteria were twice as likely as other inmates to have three or more prior probation or incarceration sentences.
  • Only 7 percent of prisoners who met DSM criteria for alcohol/drug dependence or abuse receive treatment in jail or prison.

Housing and Homelessness

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


  • The prevalence of chronic illnesses and communicable disease is far greater among people in jails and prisons.
  • In 2007, individuals released from prison or jail accounted for nearly one-quarter of all people living with HIV or AIDS, almost one-third of those diagnosed with hepatitis C, and more than one-third of those diagnosed with tuberculosis.
  • At year-end 2018, 1.5% (20,231) of male inmates and 1.9% (1,913) of female inmates held in state or federal prisons were HIV positive or had confirmed AIDS. Confirmed AIDS cases accounted for nearly a quarter (23%) of all HIV/AIDS cases in state and federal prisons.
  • In 2017, the most recent year for which general population data are available, the overall rate of estimated confirmed AIDS among the state and federal prison population (0.43%) was 2.5 times the rate in the general population (0.17%).


  • An estimated 809,800 prisoners of the 1,518,535 held in the nation’s prisons at midyear 2017 were parents of children under age 18. Parents held in the nation’s prisons – 52 percent of state inmates and 63 percent of federal inmates – reported having an estimated 1,706,600 minor children, accounting for 2.3 percent of the U.S. resident population under age 18.
  • Since 2001, the number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled, up 131 percent. The number of children with a father in prison has grown by 77 percent.
  • Twenty-two percent of the children of state inmates and 16 percent of the children of federal inmates were age 4 or younger. For both state (53 percent) and federal (50 percent) inmates, about half their children were age 9 or younger.

Women and Reentry

  • At the end of 2019, federal and state correctional facilities held 113,462 women, an increase of 22% since 2010.
  • At least 712,000 women were on probation and 103,000 women were on parole at year end 2020.
  • Compared to men, women are more likely to be incarcerated for drug and property crimes, and less likely to be incarcerated for violent crime. In 2018, 53.8% of sentenced male prisoners were convicted for violent offenses, compared to 35.6% of sentenced women prisoners. 29% of women were convicted of property crimes, compared to 17.7% of men. 26.9% of women prisoners were convicted of drug offenses, compared to 17.8% of men.