Probation | Parole | Pre-trial Detention

Prisons and jails are far from the only carceral institutions wreaking havoc on people’s lives. Seventy percent of the nearly quarter million people who are ensnared by the criminal legal system in Pennsylvania are under other forms of correction control, namely probation and parole. And a huge percentage of people in Pennsylvania’s jails have not been convicted of the offenses for which they’re being held. They’re languishing behind bars while waiting — often for weeks or months — for trials or hearings about their alleged offenses, simply because they’re unable to afford bail, or because they’re not being granted the opportunity to be bailed out.

Discretionary judicial decisions on the questions of whether to set bail for defendants (and if so, at what amount) and whether to incarcerate people who are alleged to have violated their probationary or parole terms, vary widely and are often racially biased or otherwise problematic. And parole sentences for those who have finished their stays in prisons and jails, keep tens of thousands of people under the thumb of a punitive system for years, decades, or even the rest of their lives.

Incarceration can have enormous negative effects on the individuals who are detained as well as their loved ones and communities. Even a short stay in jail can impact people’s mental and physical health, employment, housing, custody of their children, and overall stability of their own lives and those of their family members. Longer stays compound all of these problems. And onerous and expensive probation and parole conditions create a virtual minefield for those navigating these burdensome systems.

ALC uses many tactics to address the harms of pre-trial and probation-related detention, including litigation, strategic communications, community organizing, allowable lobbying, and our Court Watch program. And we’re working with others with a stake in the system to eliminate long-term/lifetime parole in Pennsylvania.

To learn more, search for these Topics on our homepage.