The launch of several research papers has been announced by REFORM Alliance, a nonprofit organization created by Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Meek Mill, and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, with the goal of improving America’s probation and probation systems. Policymakers, practice-based stakeholders, and the general public will have a deeper awareness and understanding of how supervision affects individuals, families, and communities as a result of the upcoming publications.

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There are over 4 million persons under supervision in the United States, down by nearly 300,000 since REFORM was established in 2019. With 16 bipartisan pieces of legislation passed across ten states, providing pathways for more than 650,000 people to exit the system, REFORM Alliance’s work to transform probation and parole from a failed system of trapdoors to one centered around accountability, personal incentive, and stability has already had a demonstrative impact. REFORM has committed to investing its resources in examining the nation’s probation and parole systems’ best practices to broaden the organization’s advocacy activities.

The newly formed Research and Implementation department at REFORM Alliance was established to ensure that REFORM’s policy initiatives reach their full potential and are founded on the best and most recent research available. The Research and Implementation Department is working to establish REFORM as a leader and convenor in the field by bringing together specialists, practitioners, and advocates to deepen understanding of the difficulties that parole and probation face, as well as the solutions for creating a new system that fosters opportunity and well-being.


“Reforming our criminal justice system begins with research and data,” said Robert Rooks, CEO of REFORM Alliance. “Research is fundamental to educating and engaging the public, and these new publications deepen our understanding of how supervision impacts virtually every aspect of a person’s life and American society. Illuminating the barriers supervision poses to economic opportunity will help us be more strategic and ultimately successful in eroding these barriers.”

A special issue of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science was released last month thanks to a collaboration between REFORM Alliance and Columbia Justice Lab. The From Supervision to Opportunity: Reimagining Probation and Parole series of papers explore opportunities for lawmakers and other practice-based stakeholders to enhance our justice system as well as practical, evidence-based solutions to address the problems with the U.S. probation and parole system. The data presented in the collection of papers is astounding: 8 million people live in poverty as a result of their involvement with the justice system, people on probation or parole are nearly three times as likely to be unemployed compared to the general population, and former inmates make an average income of $11,300 compared to $30,000 for their non-justice-involved counterparts. Bruce Western, one of the editors of the special issue, breaks out additional research findings in this recently released video interview.

Later this fall, a Poverty and Supervision Report, a companion piece to the special ANNALS issue, will be published. It will explore the connection between intergenerational poverty and supervision in greater detail, drawing on articles from the Columbia Justice Lab on employment, health, and collateral consequences. It will also include additional research and expert interviews.

The REFORM Alliance will release a White Paper in the first half of 2023 highlighting the most critical lessons from localities all over the country that have successfully decreased the number of people on probation and parole, improving the outcomes for those under supervision, and enhanced public safety. The paper is a follow-up to a listening session that Robert Kraft, a member of the REFORM Board and owner of the New England Patriots, arranged for systems leaders, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to examine the best methods for oversight and public safety.

America’s probation and parole system have to be replaced with a restorative strategy that is fair, responsible, and committed to recovery. One of the most important aspects in determining reentry success, reducing recidivism, and establishing long-term stability for people, families, and communities is employment possibilities. The organization’s mission is to help people successfully reintegrate into society while enhancing the safety and well-being of families and communities. In addition to its work on legislation and research, REFORM is committed to fostering employment possibilities for long-term success in the labor market. REFORM launched a series of job fair events in late 2021, and since then, it has staged two sizable gatherings that offered full one-stop services and community involvement.

About The Author

Senior Editor

Shawn Grant is a Chicago native and the Senior Editor of The Source Magazine. He can only be found on Instagram and Twitter at @shawnxgrant.

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