Top Ten Releases from Prison by State-State Releases Over Time


641,000 Offenders Released From Prison in 2015


Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University.


There were 641,000 people released from US prisons in 2015, with 60,000 federal prison releases and 581,000 state discharges.

This article addresses the top ten states for prison releases and provides some comparison numbers for your consideration.


Prison releases are an important source of information on crime control. The majority of people released from prison are arrested or incarcerated again per a variety of sources, principally the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice, see Recidivism-Crime in America.

An estimated two-thirds (68 percent) of prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years of release from prison, and three-quarters (77 percent) were arrested within five years, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Fifty to fifty-five percent are re-incarcerated.

It’s interesting that the rearrests and re-incarceration rates are much lower for the federal prison system when compared to states, see, State and Federal Recidivism.

Top Ten States for Prison Releases in 2015

Numerical releases for 2015 and contrasting numbers are offered. Contrasting years are arbitrary and involve years of higher or lower numbers.

Like a recent article on rates of incarceration (Crime in America-Incarceration Rates), releases offer a glimpse into evolving criminal justice policy.

For decades, there has been an endless debate regarding incarceration, and charges of over-incarceration. Most criminologists state that the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

Incarceration rates peaked in 2008 with 506 per 100,000; it’s 485 per 100,000 in 2015.

Note that California is an extreme example where a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 regarding inadequate inmate health care mandated the release of tens of thousands of inmates. The state now uses local jails to incarcerate lower level offenders.

The top ten list for prison releases includes in 2015:

1. Texas released 76,189. 82,130 were released in 2012

2. California released 41,257. 136,925 were released in 2008

3. Florida released 32,690. 42,000 were released in 2005

4. Illinois released 29,650. 39,280 were released in 20065. Washington released 21,939. 15,061 were released in 2007

5. Washington released 21,939. 15,061 were released in 2007

6. Ohio released 21,759. 27,482 were released in 2008

7. New York released 21,775. 27,000 were released in 2007

8. Pennsylvania released 20,874. 14,630 were released in 2009

9. Kentucky released 18,476. 10,740 were released in 2004

10. Louisiana released 17,971. 14,991 were released in 2008

Note that Louisiana beat Missouri by 41 inmates released.

Please see the chart or source below or open the chart in a new tab:


Bureau of Justice Statistics

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