Despite the significant decline in the population of Americans under community supervision over the past decade, researchers at the Columbia Justice Lab said the population is still over three times larger than what it was in 1980, and the supervision system remains riddled with racial disparities.
More than 300 Alabamans have been charged since 2014 under state law requiring people with more than two felony convictions to register with local sheriff’s offices and carry cards identifying them as repeat felons. One legal expert compared it to the ID cards Jews were required to have in Nazi Germany.
African Americans are returned to New York State prisons for “technical violations” of parole at five times the rate of whites — one of the reasons why New York is second only to Illinois in the number of people reincarcerated for behavior that otherwise wouldn’t merit criminal sanctions, according to the Columbia University Justice Lab.
Tens of thousands of Americans are sent back to prison each year for offenses as minor as neglecting to tell their probation officer they changed address. A new study argues this is another reason to question a community supervision system that is more concerned with control than rehabilitation.
While efforts should always continue to reduce unnecessary incarceration and improve jail conditions, New Yorkers can arguably soon say they live in a post-mass incarceration town, writes former NYC probation chief and Columbia Justice Lab co-founder Vincent Schiraldi.
America’s probation and parole systems were originally conceived as a channel for providing “rehabilitation and mercy.” For our special report, TCR surveyed some of the states where innovative strategies might offer a path to recovering those goals.
The initiative, sponsored by Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance, is aimed at researching best-practices models that can help reduce parole revocations that have become a major driver of mass incarceration.
Parole numbers in Alabama’s overcrowded prisons have plummeted since a triple-murder last year by a parolee. Now the new parole chief has suspended all parole and pardons hearings, blaming a new victim-notification law.
A three-judge appeals court panel affirmed the rapper’s contention that the outcome at his original 2009 trial on drug and weapons charges would have “likely” been different without Philadelphia police officer Reginald Graham as the key witness against him.
Authorities should put “hard limits” on the degree to which people can be imprisoned for technical violations of parole, and use the cost saving to invest in housing, job opportunities and other services to help reduce recidivism, says former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.