Community supervision, once intended to help offenders, contributes more to mass incarceration

[ – 11/19/20]

Justice officials are recognizing that community supervision can be a tripwire that perpetuates incarceration based on crimeless technical violations

Miriam Aroni Krinsky and Vincent Schiraldi
Opinion contributors

One of the first people to die of COVID-19 in New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail system was Raymond Rivera — a 55-year-old father and husband who lost his life in April. The “offense” that ultimately resulted in a death sentence for Rivera? Leaving a drug program without permission — a minor technical violation of the parole he was on for stealing a motorcycle cover and some bicycles.

There’s a common misconception that probation and parole — sometimes called community supervision — are more lenient alternatives to incarceration. But justice officials are recognizing that community supervision can be a tripwire that perpetuates incarceration based on crimeless technical violations like the one that resulted in Rivera’s incarceration and, ultimately, death.

That’s why more than 50 reform-minded elected prosecutors have joined 90 current and former probation and parole leaders this week in issuing a statement calling for eliminating incarceration for technical parole and probation violations, reducing reincarceration for low-level new offenses by those under supervision, downsizing probation and parole, and making supervision remains “less punitive and more hopeful, equitable and restorative.”

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It’s a shame that the authors didn’t mention the specific impositions on registrants under the system – far more numerous, complicated, and difficult to abide by than any other class of offender. I guess they figured it would dilute their point. Sad that there’s some truth in that.

Substitute “community supervision” for “community notification” and we arrive at the SAME result.

But hey, no politician wants to speak ill of that robust money-maker!

New York was mentioned. Parole & proba are BIG business there and DEEPLY entrenched in Political patronage jobs and beyond. It is disgusting and a HUGE wast of money. The lives of those on community supervision are for the most part, treated as throw always. I’d be surprised if anything resembling reform of the system occurs. It’s too entrenched in political patronage. Did I mention political patronage jobs in NY? Outstanding salaries and benefits.

I live in California. Yesterday, I had my monthly home visit from my parole agent. All went well. But my parole agent took extra time to let me know that I am subject to random compliance checks and that I should make sure that I am always abiding by my conditions. My parole agent continued, “Anyone who conducts the check won’t think twice about violating you, if there is any aspect not in compliance. And you will be brought to county. And because you are out-of-state, you could be stuck in county for weeks or months while your home State (CT) renders a decision about your violation. I’m only telling you this because I don’t want that to happen to you. So, make sure you remain in compliance.” Hmmmmmm…perhaps Krinsky and Schiraldi, the authors of the article above have some colleagues out this way. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to remain in compliance.

Why no registry for gun/gang felons? The police chief admits something about their parole/probation here. Child victim here!! Wtf.

The current iteration of the registry is “community supervision”. And with the IML, it’s a “world community supervision”. This has gone beyond the scope of the 2003 Smith v Doe SCOTUS decision. Instead of mass incarceration, it’s mass ostracization and tracking of supposedly free people who are no longer under custody.

Whereas there are many programs for re-integration into the community, the registry is the exact opposite. This “world community supervision” is highly invasive to a free person who is no longer under custody. Congrats, you did your time and are free, but you can’t do this, live there, travel here, here, or here, as well as cannot work here, there, or over there. It’s creating a sub-class where you are not equal to your free neighbors.

The registry are like the COVID-19 lockdowns such that they make no sense when you look at the data as your civil rights are trampled upon under the guise of “public safety”. There’s a statewide curfew that will start in California from 10pm to 5am. I guess the state believes that if you race home before 10pm that you can avoid COVID-19. It doesn’t make sense, but the power to instill fear under the guise of “public safety” is shown best with the lockdowns. The registry was simply a stepping stool as it was subjected to only a subset of people. The lockdown is subjected to all people, except those in power like Gov Newsom, who can break his own rules without penalty.