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New York — Today Arnold Ventures and the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) announced the selection of 10 jurisdictions to participate in the Reducing Revocations Challenge, a national initiative dedicated to transforming probation supervision and reducing the number of unnecessary failures. The Challenge was launched in response to the growing recognition that supervision failures are a major contributor to mass incarceration, responsible for almost half of state prison admissions nationwide, and need urgent reform.

The Challenge will support action research in the 10 selected jurisdictions to better understand why revocations occur and how they can be prevented, with the goal of informing specific policy and practice interventions that can be piloted and tested in a potential second phase of the initiative. In each jurisdiction, the work will be carried out by action research teams (ARTs) composed of a research group and a partner probation agency. Selected jurisdictions and ARTs include the following:

  • Cook County, IL: Loyola University and the Cook County Adult Probation Department
  • Denver, CO: University of Wyoming and Denver Adult Probation
  • Harris County, TX: Justice System Partners and the Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department
  • Monroe County, IN: Indiana University and the Monroe Circuit Court Probation Department
  • Niagara County, NY: Niagara University and the Niagara County Probation Department
  • Pima County, AZ: Urban Institute and the Adult Probation Department of the Superior Court in Pima County
  • Pulaski County, AR: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Community Corrections
  • Ramsey County, MN: Robina Institute and Ramsey County Community Corrections
  • Santa Cruz County, CA: Resource Development Associates and the Santa Cruz County Probation Department
  • Spokane County, WA: ideas42 and the Spokane Municipal Probation Department

As they carry out their work, ARTs will receive technical assistance from experts in the probation field and participate in peer learning events that include a cross-site summit where they will share what they have learned and discuss potential solutions. At the end of the Challenge, each ART will release a public report summarizing findings and policy and practice implications.

ISLG serves as the Challenge’s research intermediary.

“Probation revocations are a significant driver of incarceration — in light of that, it’s great to see corrections leaders stepping up to transform what’s not working and expand what is,” said Amy Solomon, Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures. “The Reducing Revocations Challenge sites represent the cutting edge of research-practitioner partnerships, and each site will serve as a model for other jurisdictions, demonstrating the most effective ways to reduce probation failures, strengthen public safety, and ensure greater equity in our communities.”

“Probation violations have resulted in significant increases to prison populations to no good effect, and it’s time to refocus resources on policies and practices that will help people succeed and increase public safety,” said Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of ISLG and former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation. “We look forward to collaborating with these 10 sites in their pioneering efforts to do just that. Understanding what drives revocations — and for whom — is a critical first step, and the insights we gain from the Challenge can help probation offices around the country advance effective strategies for increasing success.”

“The Reducing Revocations Challenge is aimed at reducing mass incarceration, and I am optimistic about this initiative to better understand violations of probation from both a policy and practical perspective; and ultimately, to improve outcomes and reduce unnecessary failures,” said Veronica Cunningham, Executive Director of the American Probation and Parole Association and former Chief of Cook County Adult Probation and Director of Texas State Parole. “This action research is one of many tools needed to shepherd true community corrections reform, and is expected to benefit justice-involved individuals as well as families and communities.”

"There are many ways policy makers need to tackle mass supervision in America so we are not spending hundreds of millions of dollars incarcerating people for non-criminal, technical probation violations. One of them is for probation administrators and state and local justice systems to use their discretion wisely and in line with best practices that safely reduce incarceration for frivolous misbehavior. The 10 Reducing Revocation Challenge sites are the tip of the spear in such efforts who will hopefully lead by example for other jurisdictions around the country in the years to come," said Vincent Schiraldi, former Commissioner, New York City Probation, Co-Director, Columbia University Justice Lab, and Co-Chair EXiT: Executives Transforming Probation and Parole.

Learn more about the Reducing Revocations Challenge here.