4.5 million people in the U.S. are under probation and parole (collectively known as "community supervision"). That's nearly twice the number of people incarcerated in prisons and jails combined. Yet despite the massive number of people under their control, parole and probation are only recently starting to receive public scrutiny.
It's time they did. Probation and parole systems are frequently plagued with injustices, setting people up to fail with long supervision terms, onerous restrictions, and constant surveillance. Probation, in particular, often ends up channeling people into jail.
Below is our key research on probation and parole:
Our report shows the number of people in every U.S. state who are in prison, in jail, on probation and on parole, ranking states on their total rates of correctional control.
Our analysis finds that Massachusetts' poorest communities are hit hardest by monthly probation fees, which are rooted in harsh, "tough on crime" 1980s rhetoric and make little sense for the state today.
We give every state's parole release system a letter grade. Functioning, fair parole release could help end mass incarceration — but most states are failing.
Our report — a policy handbook for shortening long prison sentences — includes crucial parole reforms, such as instituting "presumptive parole" and ending re-incarceration for technical violations.
People on probation and parole are often required to secure jobs and housing. Unfortunately, our research shows, the stigma of a criminal history can make such basic requirements nearly impossible to meet.
Probation disproportionately impacts women: Three out of four women under correctional control are on probation rather than behind bars. Read more about the criminal justice policy issues that hit women the hardest.
Didn't find what you were looking for? We also curate a database of virtually all the empirical criminal justice research available online. See the section of our Research Library on probation and parole.