When people talk about the scope of the criminal justice system in America, the stat you're most likely to hear is that 1 in 100 American adults are currently incarcerated in prison or jail. (For what it's worth, these days it's closer to 110.)
But that understates the number of people who are in one form or another under the control of the criminal justice system — via prison, jail, probation or parole. All of those four added together, into the total "correctional supervision" or "correctional control" population, results in very different rates.
A 2009 Pew Public Safety Performance Project study puts this in perspective:
The Pew study was done at the peak of incarceration rates in the late 2000s, As of 2013, 1 in 35 adults are under some form of correctional control, including 1 of 13 black adults.
That's a little better. But not much.
You might notice that when you look at the whole population of the criminal justice system, it's actually a little less racially skewed than when you just look at the prison population. African Americans are nearly seven times more likely than whites to be in prison or jail, according to Pew's stats, but only about four times more likely than whites to be under criminal justice supervision in general. That's because the biggest part of the criminal justice system is probation, where white Americans are more proportionally represented. So the least punitive form of the criminal justice system is the one with the smallest racial disparities.
This isn't to say probation (and parole) aren't punitive. While in theory probation and parole are supposed to help offenders rehabilitate themselves and get back into everyday life, they often end up putting impositions on people trying to get their lives back in order (making them leave work early to make meetings with parole officers, for example). And in most cases, violating the terms of your probation or parole can mean getting sent to prison or jail. Eighteen percent of all parole terms in 2013 ended with parole getting revoked, and 15 percent of all probation terms ended with the probationer getting incarcerated.