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Post-Conviction Supervision — Judicial Business 2020

A total of 126,970 persons were under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2020, a decrease of 2 percent from one year earlier (down 1,934 persons). Reductions in many areas related to post-conviction supervision stemmed at least in part from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Persons serving terms of supervised release on that date following release from correctional institutions remained relatively stable, dropping less than 1 percent from the previous year to 112,849 (down 349 persons), and amounted to 89 percent of all persons under supervision.

Table 8
Federal Post-Conviction Supervision
Fiscal Years 2016 - 2020
Year Persons
Persons Received
Less Transfers
Persons Removed
Less Transfers
Persons Under
Supervision on
September 30
2016 65,939 61,994 62,951 58,970 137,410
2017 61,352 57,575 62,938 59,083 134,731
2018 59,166 55,471 63,047 59,301 129,706
2019 62,823 59,171 62,638 59,008 128,904
2020 59,159 55,594 60,123 56,704 126,970
Percent Change
2019 - 2020






Cases of persons under supervision in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2020, that involved probation imposed by district and magistrate judges declined 12 percent to 12,849 from the previous year and accounted for 10 percent of all persons under post-conviction supervision. The number of parole cases open at the end of 2020 dropped 6 percent to 818 (parole is not available for persons sentenced for federal offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987).

Excluding transfers, the number of persons received for supervision during 2020 decreased 6 percent to 55,594. The number of persons released from correctional institutions and received for supervised release dropped 5 percent to 48,914. For persons entering the system this year, probation cases went down 22 percent to 5,511, and parole cases (including cases involving special parole, military parole, and mandatory release) fell 13 percent to 261.

Forty-five percent of persons under post-conviction supervision had been convicted of drug offenses. Sixteen percent had been convicted of property offenses. Sixteen percent had been convicted of firearms offenses. These percentages have changed little in the last five years.

The number of post-conviction supervision cases closed (including those involving transfers out of districts and deaths) decreased 6 percent to 56,600. The proportion of post-conviction cases terminated successfully increased 5 percent to 73 percent. Of those cases closed successfully, 25 percent were closed by early termination, up 11 percent from the previous year.

Technical violations led to 68 percent of the 13,712 revocations of post-conviction supervision reported, down 21 percent from the previous year. New offenses accounted for the remaining revocations and for 8 percent of all 51,624 supervision cases terminated (excluding transfers out and deaths).

Comparing data for the last days of fiscal years 2016 and 2020 reveals that the number of persons under post-conviction supervision was 8 percent lower in 2020. Offenders under post-conviction supervision who had been convicted of drug offenses dropped from 49 percent of the total to 45 percent. Those convicted of property offenses fell from 20 percent to 16 percent of the total. Those convicted of firearms offenses increased from 13 percent to 16 percent of the total. Persons serving terms of supervised release following release from a correctional institution fell 7 percent over the past five years. In 2020, they represented 88 percent of all persons under supervision, up from 85 percent in 2016.

For data on post-conviction supervision, see Table 8 and the E series of tables

Investigative Reports

The number of full presentence reports prepared by probation officers decreased 13 percent to 63,831. Ninety-five percent of the reports (60,604) were presentence guideline reports, which are comprehensive investigative reports prepared in felony or Class A misdemeanor cases for which the U.S. Sentencing Commission has promulgated guidelines. Modified presentence reports, which are less comprehensive, represented 4 percent of total presentence investigative reports. Non-guideline reports, which are prepared for felony and Class A misdemeanor cases for which the U.S. Sentencing Commission has not promulgated guidelines, constituted less than 1 percent of investigative reports (148).

Substance Abuse Treatment

Federal offenders receive substance abuse treatment from a variety of sources—state programs, local programs, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and judiciary-funded substance abuse treatment services. The data presented here reflect only judiciary-funded substance abuse treatment and exclude costs associated with substance abuse testing. 

Of the 72,918 offenders under supervision with court-ordered substance abuse treatment conditions, 21,509 received judiciary-funded treatment (down 3,630 offenders from 2019). The federal Judiciary spent an average of $1,364 per offender (down $168) for a total of $25.1 million (down $6.7 million). Nationwide, 29 percent of offenders with conditions requiring substance abuse treatment received judiciary-funded treatment, down from 34 percent in 2019.

For additional information on judiciary-funded substance abuse treatment services in the federal probation system, see Table S-13.