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Columbia Justice Lab


Shaping Justice for the Future

Statement on the Future of Community Corrections

Monday, August 28, 2017

Over the past 25 years, community corrections (probation and parole) caseloads have grown exponentially, exceeding 5 million people at their peak, double the number of people in prison and jail in America. Designed originally as an alternative to incarceration, community corrections has become a significant contributor to mass incarceration with nearly as many people entering prison for violations of community corrections conditions as for new offenses.

Due to this high volume, public resources for community corrections have been stretched, fostering large caseloads and inadequate programming and, in some cases, forcing community corrections agencies to rely on fees from impoverished clients for their very existence.

Fortunately, increasingly sophisticated research has shown that we can responsibly reduce probation and parole populations. Research shows that people on community corrections can be incentivized by earning time off of probation for exemplary behavior such as securing a job, stable housing, or earning a degree; that supervising people who present a low risk of rearrest increases recidivism; and that the impact of supervision wanes after a few years.

As such, as America’s leading probation and parole officials and other concerned individuals and organizations, we believe it is possible to both significantly reduce the footprint of probation and parole and improve outcomes and public safety. Numerous jurisdictions have reduced the number of people on probation and parole and have instead focused supervision on those most in need of it and only for the time period they require supervision without negatively impacting public safety.

Towards this end, we recommend that the number of people on probation and parole supervision in America be significantly reduced by:

  • Reserving the use of community corrections for only those who truly require supervision.
  • Reducing lengths of stay under community supervision to only as long as necessary to accomplish the goals of sentencing.
  • Exercising parsimony in the use of supervision conditions to no more conditions than required to achieve the objectives of supervision.
  • Incentivizing progress on probation and parole by granting early discharge for those who exhibit significant progress.
  • Eliminating or significantly curtailing charging supervision fees and instead,
  • Preserving most or all of the savings from reducing probation and parole populations and focusing those resources on improving community based services and supports for people under supervision.

Signatories
As of 3pm, Thursday, August 31, 2017

Community Corrections Executives

  • Jerry Adger, Director, South Carolina Probation Parole and Pardon Services
  • Ana Bermúdez, Probation Commissioner, New York City Probation
  • David Birch, Chief, Probation and Parole Division, Idaho Department of Correction
  • Barbara Broderick, Chief Probation Officer, Maricopa County, AZ
  • Susan Burke, Director, Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services
  • Joseph Clocker, Director, Maryland Division of Parole and Probation
  • Chester Cooper, Director, Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections & Rehabilitation
  • Hope Cooper, Deputy Secretary, Community and Field Services, Kansas Department of Corrections
  • Ron Corbett, Former Commissioner, Massachusetts Probation Service
  • Howard F. Delaney, Director of Probation, Spokane Municipal Court
  • Ed Dolan, Commissioner, Massachusetts Probation Service
  • Karen Fletcher, Chief Adult Probation Officer, City and County of San Francisco
  • Adolfo Gonzales, Chief Probation Officer, San Diego County Probation
  • Christy Gutherz, Deputy Commissioner, Community Corrections, Mississippi Department of Corrections
  • Marcus Hodges, Associate Director, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia
  • James Hudspeth, Director, Adult Probation and Parole, State of Utah Department of Corrections
  • Michael Jacobson, Former Probation Commissioner, New York City Probation
  • Julie Kempker, Chief State Supervisor with Probation and Parole, Missouri Department of Corrections
  • John Klavins, Community Corrections Director, Ramsey County Community Corrections (MN)
  • David Koch, Chief Probation Officer, Sonoma County Probation Department
  • Terri McDonald, Chief Probation Officer, Los Angeles County, CA
  • David Muhammad, Former Chief Probation Officer, Alameda County, CA
  • Michael Nail, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Community Supervision
  • Paul O'Connell, Operations Director, Community Corrections, Arizona Department of Corrections
  • James Payne, Former Probation Commissioner, New York City Probation
  • Rocco A. Pozzi, Commissioner, Westchester County (NY) Probation Department
  • David F. Sanders, Chief Probation Officer, Pima County (AZ) Adult Probation Department
  • Frank Scherer, Director, Allegheny County Adult Probation and Parole
  • Vincent Schiraldi, Former Probation Commissioner, New York City Probation
  • Wendy Still, Chief Probation Officer, Alameda County, CA
  • Jeremiah Stromberg, Assistant Director, Community Corrections, Oregon Department of Corrections
  • Javed Syed, Director, Dallas County Community Supervision and Corrections (Adult Probation) Department
  • Scott Taylor, Director, Multnomah County (OR) Department of Community Justice
  • Leslie (Barney) Tomanek, Director, North Dakota Parole and Probation
  • Nancy Ware, Director, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia

Organizations

  • #Cut50
  • Alliance for Safety and Justice
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Conservative Union Federation
  • American Probation and Parole Association
  • Association of Paroling Authorities International
  • Association of State Correctional Administrators
  • Brennan Center
  • Center for Court Innovation
  • Center for Justice at Columbia University
  • Common Justice
  • FREEAMERICA
  • Fortune Society
  • International Community Corrections Association
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • JustLeadershipUSA
  • Justice Policy Institute
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies
  • National Association of Probation Executives
  • New York City Criminal Justice Agency
  • Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, University of Minnesota Law School
  • The Sentencing Project
  • Vera Institute of Justice

Individuals

  • John Chisholm, District Attorney,Milwaukee
  • George Gascon, District Attorney, San Francisco County 
  • Mark Holden, General Counsel, Koch Industries
  • Van Jones, CNN Host, President of The Dream Corps, & co-founder of #cut50
  • George Keiser, CEO, Keiser and Associates
  • Piper Kerman, Author      
  • John Legend, Singer-Songwriter/Actor/Producer
  • Karol Mason President, John Jay University, former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs       
  • Ronal Serpas, Chairman, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration
  • Shelley Szambelan, Presiding Judge, Spokane Municipal Court
  • Steven Tompkins, Sheriff, Suffolk County, MA
  • Bruce Western, Chair, Executive Session on Community Corrections, Harvard Kennedy School

Praise for the statement:

  •  "People ask me about prison reform, and I tell them there's no such thing. We must reform every segment of the criminal legal system for it to work fairly and efficiently to deliver the justice and safety all Americans expect and deserve. This statement shows how probation and parole can be improved, and sets achievable goals that every jurisdiction should adopt. Community corrections is a pivotal yet overlooked opportunity to right-size the American criminal justice system; we know that reducing the number of people under state control makes our communities both safer and more free.” - Piper Kerman, Author

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