Mass Supervision: Probation, Parole, and the Illusion of Safety and Freedom

Regular price $ 29.99

by Vincent Schiraldi

New Press

9/12/2023, hardcover

SKU: 9781620978177


The most comprehensive critique of probation and parole--and a provocative and compelling argument for abolishing both--from the former Probation Commissioner of New York City

We've heard a lot in recent years about the nearly 2.1 million people incarcerated in American prisons and jails. But what about the approximately 4 million more who are on probation and parole--monitored by the state at great expense and at risk of being sent to prison at the whim of a probation or parole officer for the least imaginable infraction?

Vincent Schiraldi was New York City probation commissioner under Mayor Bloomberg, supervising a system charged with monitoring 30,000 people on a daily basis. In Mass Supervision, he combines firsthand experience with deep research on the inadequately explored practices of probation and parole, to illustrate how these forms of state supervision have strayed from their original goal of providing constructive and rehabilitative alternatives to prison. They have become instead, Schiraldi argues, a "recidivism trap" for people trying to lead productive lives in the wake of a criminal conviction.

Schiraldi offers the first full and up-to-date account of these two key aspects of our criminal justice system, showing that these practices increase incarceration, have little impact on crime rates, and needlessly disrupt countless lives. Ultimately, he argues that they should be dramatically downsized or even abolished completely.

With a foreword by Bruce Western.


"A captivating account of the history and current state of criminal supervision in the U.S.... Schiraldi provides valuable insight for activists. This astute and accessible study illuminates a vital yet understudied topic." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This is a real moment for parole and probation in America. This book chronicles the rise of mass supervision and the birth of the movement to reform it. From the injustices I experienced on probation and the #FreeMeek movement that resulted in my release, to the experiences of millions of Americans who are tormented by the supervision-to-prison pipeline, to the many changes REFORM Alliance and others have already brought about, this book takes us from the creation of the system, through its transformations and reforms, and directs us to the hard work remaining to free men and women still unjustly trapped on supervision. Schiraldi captures how far we've come in the movement to fix parole and probation and reminds us how much more we can do if we stand together against injustice." -- Robert "Meek Mill" Williams, recording artist, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the REFORM Alliance

"With Mass Supervision, Schiraldi asks us all to consider what it means to be on 'papers, ' that colloquial term for being under state supervision. Schiraldi knows what the rest of us don't about probation or parole--and in this book he reveals it: from its history to all its present disasters. But more than this, Schiraldi offers a pathway forward, to less supervision and more freedom and more safety. That's why this one matters." -- Reginald Dwayne Betts, founder and director, Freedom Reads, and author of Felon

About the Author:

Vincent Schiraldi is the founder of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice and the Justice Policy Institute. He has served as director of juvenile corrections in Washington, DC, commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, and commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction. He has been a senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and co-founded the Columbia University Justice Lab. He is currently secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and has written extensively for outlets ranging from the New York Times to The Marshall Project. The author of Mass Supervision, he lives just outside of Washington, DC.