Keeping young people on probation for an extended period of time saddles them with substantial financial and emotional burdens and increases their likelihood of subsequent incarceration. Lengthy probation terms disrupt employment, education, and family engagement. They can also become unnecessary “trip wires” to technical violations, which are non-criminal infractions such as failure to get a job, keep a job, or pay restitution. Young adults under probation supervision can be “violated” and incarcerated even if they have not committed a new offense or if their original offense did not compromise public safety.
An estimated 5,500 young adults under age 26 in Philadelphia are currently under supervision. Having thousands of young Philadelphians serving probation terms exacerbates mass supervision and mass incarceration but does not enhance public safety. In addition, these sentences keep young people in the criminal justice system at significant expense to government agencies, communities, and families.
Terminating unnecessary probation sentences can allow young adults to fully re-engage in their communities as students, parents, and workers. It can also safely reduce community corrections and prison populations, leading to substantial cost savings and improved resource allocation in Philadelphia.
Through her Stoneleigh Fellowship, Sangeeta Prasad is partnering with Philadelphia’s Office of the District Attorney to design tools, practice standards, and processes for obtaining terminations of probation for eligible young adults up to age 26 in Philadelphia. This work will be conducted in coordination with key local stakeholders, including the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Adult Probation and Parole Department, young adults who are serving lengthy probation terms, and the criminal court judges of the First Judicial District.
This Stoneleigh Fellowship will enable Sangeeta to:
- Create standards for determining probation termination eligibility, based upon guidelines from other jurisdictions that have successfully implemented probation reductions through early termination.
- Create systems and processes for probation terminations to be identified, filed, and granted through the Office of the District Attorney.