REFORM Alliance works with a bipartisan coalition of allies to support impactful reforms to Probation and Parole systems around the country in a variety of ways. We work directly with legislators and governors to identify or draft and pass bills, increase public awareness and interest with storytelling that communicates experiences of directly impacted individuals through digital and earned media campaigns, and advocate on the ground with our grassroots organizers and partner organizations.
One in every 18 adult Georgians is on probation or parole. In 2016, more than 430,000 Georgians were under some form of supervision, the second-largest population in the country. This system is expensive: Georgia spends more than $193 million per year on probation and parole revocations, making supervision reform a fiscal as well as criminal justice priority. Most states cap the length of probation sentences, but Georgians can remain on supervision for 10 to 20 years, even after serving their sentence. REFORM Alliance is working with a bipartisan coalition to pass SB 105 to:
- Bolster Georgia’s 2017 reforms that established “Behavioral Incentive Dates” (BID) to increase positive behavior correlated with lower rates of recidivism and higher rates of community success.
- To standardize and expand eligibility for BID and streamline the process for early termination, in accordance with the intent of the 2017 reforms.
Iowa’s prison population recently reached its highest peak in eight years. There are 33,000 Iowans under supervision and 40% of the state’s prison population is there for a supervision violation. Incarceration for supervision violations causes overcrowding within Iowa’s prisons, which are well over capacity, and costs Iowa taxpayers $133 million each year. Some $51 million of that is due to sending people back to prison for non-crimes like missed appointments or lack of employment. REFORM Alliance is leading a bipartisan coalition to pass HSB6, which will:
- Reform probation in Iowa by lowering minimum terms for both misdemeanor and felony probation.
- Eliminating consecutive sentences of probation; and enabling successful community transitions by reducing counterproductive collateral consequences of supervision, including incarceration and/or extended supervision for the inability to pay fines and fees.
Mississippi’s incarceration rate is approximately 1,000 people out of every 100,000 – a rate that is well above the national average. In 2020, the Mississippi House and Senate passed bipartisan parole expansion to reduce the number of people behind bars, SB 2123; but unfortunately Gov. Reeves vetoed the bill. REFORM Alliance is working to improve and build support in the legislative and executive branches for a similar bill, SB 2795. SB 2795 will:
- Increase parole eligibility based on age and time served.
- Require the state’s Department of Corrections (MDOC) to create case plans that prioritize treatment and rehabilitative programming within the first 90 days of prison, in order to increase the likelihood that people will successfully return to their communities upon release.
- Expand parole eligibility. REFORM Alliance is working with a coalition in Mississippi to strengthen and improve this legislation to augment its possible impact on the incarcerated population.
New Jersey has 138,000 people on probation and 14,000 on parole. The state continues to sentence people to onerous mandatory minimums while simultaneously narrowing pathways to release by prohibiting or denying parole in most instances. In 2021, REFORM Alliance is building on essential 2020 reforms by supporting A5266 (which replaced A4369) to:
- Eliminate harmful and wasteful mandatory minimums for several non-violent drug and non-violent property crimes.
- Safely reduce mass incarceration, while providing a fair pathway to freedom and a meaningful second chance.
On any given day in New York, there are 10,678 people incarcerated as a result of a supervision violation, at an annual cost to the state of $815 million. Technical supervision violations account for $359 million of this total amount. For every 10 successful completions of parole, there are 9 cases that result in reincarceration. In 2016, New York’s parole failure rate rose to 47% – nearly half – a significant departure from the national average of 28%. REFORM Alliance works in partnership with the New Yorkers United for Justice (NYUJ) to evaluate New York’s parole system and establish effective and sensible solutions. REFORM Alliance works with NYUJ to identify, evaluate, and support legislation that will:
- Expand and diversify the parole board, and streamline the parole process.
- Demand due process and fairness in the parole system.
- Implement non-carceral responses to noncriminal violations of parole.
- Establish a more comprehensive and rehabilitative approach to community supervision.
Pennsylvania has the third-highest population of people on supervision (probation or parole) in the country. In 2016 and 2017, more people entered Pennsylvania’s state prisons for supervision violations than for any new crime. Pennsylvania’s supervision system not only increases recidivism and fails to make communities safer, it is also incredibly costly: the state spends over $330 million a year to lock people up for supervision violations. In 2021, REFORM Alliance is continuing our work to pass legislation to ensure probation is an effective tool for accountability and rehabilitation instead of a punitive revolving door that cycles back and forth from supervision to incarceration. Onerous and conflicting supervision conditions, never-ending probation terms, and harmful and extreme punishments for noncriminal probation violations are all staples of Pennsylvania’s broken probation system in desperate need of reform. Our bipartisan coalition in Pennsylvania has incorporated data-driven, common-sense solutions that:
- Reduce costly and unnecessary mass incarceration.
- Reduce recidivism.
- Cut bureaucracy and waste.
- Make Pennsylvanians safer while saving them money.
Virginia is one of only five states that doesn’t limit the possible term of probation for either misdemeanor or felony offenses. Virginia’s lengthy and unnecessary probation terms and use of prison time for technical probation violations (noncriminal behavior) set people up to fail, block important pathways to redemption and early termination, increase returns to prison, and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, all while failing to make Virginians any safer. REFORM Alliance is working with Del. Don Scott to pass HB 2038, that would
- Add Virginia to the vast majority of states that limit possible probation terms.
- Introduce graduated sanctions for technical violations of probation to reduce recidivism.
- Save millions of dollars annually.
- Balance the need to hold people accountable while also creating meaningful opportunities to contribute to their communities and families.