Probation and Parole: High Stakes and Missed Opportunities

A discussion on how to protect public safety and achieve successful outcomes

Probation and Parole: High Stakes and Missed Opportunities
Pedestrian crossing
Getty Images

Efforts to rein in prison populations have gained momentum across the country, but much less discussed is one of the leading drivers of incarceration—community supervision.

Nationwide, 4.5 million people are on probation or parole, about twice the population confined in prisons and jails combined. In 2016, 1 in 55 adults was on community supervision; the total number had increased 239 percent since 1980.

The growth and size of the supervised population can undermine the ability of local and state community corrections agencies to carry out their basic responsibilities to provide the best public safety return on investment, support behavior changes, and ensure accountability.

While about half of those on probation or parole will successfully complete their sentences, onerous supervision requirements can become tripwires. In 2016, 350,000 supervision sentences were terminated, leading to jail or prison stays—often for technical violations rather than for new criminal offenses.

What does the public need to know about probation and parole? And how can journalists cover the important—and underreported—issues related to delivering better outcomes for people on supervision, decreasing the footprint of the community supervision system, and reducing costly incarceration for violations of supervision? What innovative policies have states used to improve their systems and who are the most influential players in the field? 

A Pew Charitable Trusts panel at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in August in Miami will feature experts who will discuss the research and efforts by states to improve supervision outcomes.

Expert Panel

Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, 10 AM - 11:30 AM, JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, Palmetto Room, Aventura, Florida

  • Connie Utada, associate manager, public safety performance project, The Pew Charitable Trusts (@PewStates)
  • Topeka K. Sam, founder and executive director, Ladies of Hope Ministries (@TopekaKSam)
  • Veronica Cunningham, executive director, American Probation and Parole Association (@APPAinfo)
  • Robert Listenbee, first assistant district attorney, Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney (@Philadao)

Moderator: Teresa Wiltz, senior staff writer, Stateline (@teresawiltz)