The Enormous Cost of Parole Violations in New York

Nims, Tyler; Bradner, Kendra; Margalotti, Johnna Rose; Katznelson, Zachary; Schiraldi, Vincent N.

New York State sends more people to prison for parole rules violations than any other state in the country. In 2019, 40 percent of the people sent to New York prisons were incarcerated not for a new felony conviction, but for parole violations such as not reporting to a parole officer, living at an unapproved residence, missing curfew, or failing drug or alcohol tests. Black and Latinx people are significantly more likely than white people to be incarcerated for parole violations.

The fiscal impact on New York state and local taxpayers is enormous. In 2019, New York’s state and local governments collectively spent $683 million to incarcerate people on parole for rules violations, without evidence that this massive expenditure of resources meaningfully contributed to public safety.

Rather than continuing to devote extensive public resources to incarcerating people for parole violations, policymakers should: 1) Reduce the number of persons reincarcerated for technical parole violations in New York and incentivize compliance with supervision; 2) Reinvest correctional savings into services and opportunities that support successful reentry from state prisons to communities; and 3) Involve communities that are heavily impacted by parole supervision in designing and operating services, supports and opportunities in their own neighborhoods.

New York State lawmakers have an opportunity to enact meaningful parole reform. There is a diverse coalition calling for parole reform, including district attorneys, sheriffs, the State and New York City Bar Associations, grassroots organizations, formerly incarcerated people, and justice reformers. The Less Is More parole reform bill—which is supported by nearly 240 organizations across the state as well as law enforcement officials—would significantly reduce the number of people on parole who are reincarcerated at the state and county levels.

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April 2, 2021