Arnold Ventures, CUNY Launch Initiative to Boost Probation Success

Arnold Ventures, CUNY Launch Initiative to Boost Probation Success

Arnold Ventures and the City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance have announced the launch of a $2 million initiative dedicated to improving probation supervision and reducing unnecessary failures that contribute to mass incarceration.

Between 1980 and 2016, the number of adults in U.S. prisons jumped from 1.8 million to 6.6 million. In response, a number of large-scale initiatives were launched with the goal of reducing jail and prison populations. But according to Arnold Ventures, a significant gap in the reform landscape in the area of community supervision has contributed to unnecessary probation and parole failures.

To be administered by the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance, the Reducing Revocations Challenge will address these issues by supporting research in up to ten jurisdictions across the United States focused on why probation revocations occur and how they can be prevented, with the goal of informing policy and practice interventions that can be piloted and tested in a potential second phase. To that end, Arnold Ventures will award grants of up to $200,000 over sixteen months to "action research teams" consisting of a research partner and local probation department or district office in a statewide system. Grant recipients also will receive technical assistance from experts in the probation field and will participate in a peer-learning network that includes a cross-site summit where grantees will share research findings and discuss policy implications.

"In some states, more than half the prison admissions are a result of probation or parole failures," said Arnold Ventures vice president of criminal justice Amy Solomon. "Probation should help people succeed in their communities, not serve as a gateway to incarceration. Through the Reducing Revocations Challenge, jurisdictions will examine what's driving revocations and advance reforms to safely reduce correctional control and incarceration. The ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for individuals and communities."