RELEASE: Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner Implements New Probation Policy to Reduce Mass Incarceration

Philadelphia DAO
Mar 21, 2019 · 3 min read

PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Ben Waxman, 215–686–8711, benjamin.waxman@phila.gov

PHILADELPHIA (March 21, 2019) — Today, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the implementation of a new probation policy aimed at drastically reducing the number of people on supervised probation and parole. The policy, which is effective immediately, will also decrease recidivism, encourage employment, and increase public safety. DA Krasner will instruct Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) to seek shorter lengths of supervision for both misdemeanor and felony convictions when permitted by state law.

“Right now the City of Philadelphia has over 42,000 people on supervised parole as compared to 12,700 in New York City, a city that is nearly five times as large as we are,” said Larry Krasner, Philadelphia District Attorney. “This new policy is about expanding individual justice because it’s wrong to keep a parolee trapped in a system that overwhelmingly hurts the poor and people of color, facilitates recidivism, breaks up families, and keeps individuals from finding and keeping a job.”

A driving factor behind the new policy is that multiple studies show that after two years of supervision the positive impact of parole and probation decrease. Over time, supervision causes the parolee to commit violations, so they could potentially return to jail at a cost to the city, their job, and family for weeks or months until they have their hearing in front of the judge who sentenced them. A parolee could be detained if they test positive for marijuana, despite the city’s decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. Additionally, the fees and costs of remaining on parole disproportionately impacts the poor because they cannot afford the long-term financial burden, so they fall behind or commit additional crimes; causing them to remain in the system.

“Research and experience show that short, focused periods of supervision yield better rehabilitation and public safety outcomes than long, drawn out supervision,” stated Vincent Schiraldi, co-founder of the Columbia University Justice Lab and former Commissioner of New York City Probation. “When supervision is short and meaningful, rather than just marking time, probation staff and people on probation alike can focus on achieving meaningful goals, and everyone benefits from that focus. District Attorney Larry Krasner should be credited for once again using science and common sense to further public safety and human decency as he rolls out these probation reforms.”

The new policy will reduce the number of parolees by having Assistant District Attorneys (ADA) request:

* No more than 12 months of probation for misdemeanors when mandatory probation periods do not apply;

* No more than three years of probation for felonies when mandatory probation periods do not apply; and

* For all probation periods to run concurrently and not consecutively.

Another impact of long-term probation is how it blocks parolees from stable employment. Many parolees are not considered for employment because of their status or because of their court ordered reporting, drug testing, and community service requirements.

“At La Colombe, we believe in giving people a second chance, paying them a good wage, and providing them with opportunities to grow and move within the company, and doing this has paid huge dividends. I’m thrilled that the District Attorney is reforming Philadelphia’s probation system to make it easier for people to move on and start to build their second act, and I know it will have an immensely positive impact on the city,” Todd Carmichael, CEO and Co-Founder of La Colombe Coffee.

This policy is a presumption and ADAs will still be permitted to seek longer periods of supervision with approval from a supervisor if they believe that an exception is warranted.

Read the new policy in full below:

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of over 40,000 criminal cases annually.

The Justice Wire

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