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New Looks at Parole-Probation, From Prison Policy Initiative And From NY 'Less is More' Coalition

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A new briefing from the Prison Policy Initiative, "Guilty by association: When parole and probation rules disrupt support systems,” takes a look at the “no-association conditions” in place in many states, which bar people who are on probation or parole from spending time with Individuals who have criminal records. Failure to follow association restrictions can result in incarceration, from revoked parole or probation.

Prior Prison Policy reports have looked at the barriers posed by more widely known, difficult-to-satisfy supervision conditions — like securing employment and paying relentless fees— as examples of why supervision doesn’t “work” for so many people and too often results in incarceration for “technical” violations. In this briefing, researchers compile research and data on association restrictions, which are imposed on hundreds of thousands of people (and impact many others) at any given time.

Under association restrictions, people on probation-parole are barred from certain places altogether, producing a complex web of prohibited activities and relationships that make it even harder to find housing and work, arrange for transportation, participate in treatment programs, or otherwise succeed in reentry. “If states and local jurisdictions truly want people on supervision to succeed, they should acknowledge and ultimately abandon association restrictions,” Prison Policy researchers suggest.

Also, new research from a group of partners, including the Probation and Parole Project in the JusticeLab at Columbia University, found that New Yorkers want money saved from the 2021 “Less is More Act” parole reforms to go toward housing and other community-safety measures such as community spaces, behavioral healthcare, jobs and job training and re-entry supports. Before Less Is More, New York led the nation in re-incarceration for parole violations. The cost of incarcerating people for technical violations was $680 million. Based on numbers from the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, there were roughly 7,000 fewer people on parole and 150 fewer parole and senior parole officers in fall of 2023, compared to fall of 2021.

The qualitative study and feedback at town halls “reflected a deep understanding that the safest communities are not those with the most police and prisons but those with the most resources and strongest infrastructure,” said Emily NaPier Singletary, co-author of the report and Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Unchained, which released the research along with the Probation and Parole Project in the Justice Lab at Columbia University, in partnership with the #LessIsMoreNY Coalition, led by Unchained and the Katal Center.


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