Parole in America is a correctional practice born in New York. Despite having more experience in the administration of parole than any other state, New York lags far behind others in the fairness of this system. New York’s parole system suffers from chronic understaffing and a lack of transparency and expediency – leading to worthy candidates for release languishing behind bars.
Furthermore, New York aggressively re-incarcerates people on parole for technical violations such as missing curfew or appointments with their parole officer. Even as New York’s prison population continues decline, the number of people sent to prison for such violations is on the rise. This trend holds true for New York City’s jail population too, which is trending towards historic lows overall but shows a steep and disturbing increase in the number of people incarcerated for parole violations.
New York’s draconian approach to noncriminal behavior results in people serving prison terms longer than some who have been convicted of felony offenses. Like many problems in our justice system, New York’s approach to parole has created stark racial and economic disparities that point to bias, and has not shown to make New York any safer. In fact, research suggests that the more time spent behind bars, the more likely an individual is to commit worse offenses – meaning that parole-based incarceration makes New York less safe overall.
New York must move away from this harmful approach to parole and community reintegration to drive down crime and recidivism. To that end, New Yorkers United for Justice has adopted the following five core principles for parole reform in New York:
- Expand and streamline the parole process;
- Provide more due process to individuals within the parole system;
- Adopt non-carceral responses to noncriminal violations of parole;
- Establish a more comprehensive and rehabilitative approach to community supervision; and,
- Continue to explore and expand evidence-based mechanisms for decarceration.