How Philly, the nation’s most supervised big city, cut its probation numbers by a third

By Samantha Melamed, The Philadelphia Inquirer | April 19, 2021

Stoneleigh Fellow Sangeeta Prasad is part of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s team working toward reducing the city’s overreliance on probation and parole.

Three years ago, a national study of probation and parole called out Pennsylvania as a stark outlier. The Columbia University Justice Lab found that Pennsylvania was the third-most supervised state in the country. And Philadelphia, where one in 22 adults was under supervision, was the nation’s most supervised big city.

That came at a high cost, as many on probation find it creates obstacles to maintaining housing, education, and employment — as well as trip wires that can send them back to jail, even if they don’t commit a new crime.

On Monday, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is set to release a report marking a milestone: Since 2018, the number of people under county supervision has declined by one-third, from 42,000 people to 28,000. The analysis credits policies introduced by District Attorney Larry Krasner, who instructed prosecutors, in most cases, not to seek supervision beyond 36 months for felonies or 12 months for misdemeanors.

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