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Columbia Justice Lab on 8/13/2020 by Kendra Bradner
This research brief offers an initial analysis of newly-released data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), which report on the number of people under probation and parole supervision in 2017 and 2018. This brief seeks to put the data into the context of historical and international community supervision trends and to examine supervision rates through a racial equity lens.
The authors find that, while there has been an observable decline in the number of people under community supervision, the United States continues to maintain high rates of community supervision compared to historic rates, as well as compared to European rates. Further, community supervision is still marked by significant racial disparities and “mass supervision” continues to be a major contributor to mass incarceration. Finally, from 2008 to 2018, the decline in the number of people on probation has failed to keep pace with the decline in arrests, resulting in an increase in the rate of probation, per arrest.
The authors recommend that policymakers address points of racial and ethnic disparity, shorten parole supervision periods and allow people to reduce their supervision periods through compliant behavior, eliminate incarceration as a response to non-criminal technical violations, and invest savings in initiatives co-designed with impacted communities.