MASS PROBATION AND INEQUALITY: Race, Class, and Gender Disparities in Supervision and Revocation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

28 Scopus citations


Over the past 40 years, the number of adults in the U.S. under penal control massively expanded, with probation-or supervision in the community-serving as the predominant mode of formal supervision. This chapter addresses the role of probation in shaping race, class, and gender disparities in the criminal justice system. Relying on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), I generate the first national estimates of probation supervision prevalence rates by age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status for the mid-2000s and early 2010s. Second, I incorporate data from Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys to compare the demographics of probationers to jail and prison inmates who were on probation at the time of arrest. The results show that while the race, class, and gender skew in probation is less severe than for incarceration, there are deep disparities in which probationers are ultimately incarcerated. Further, roughly a quarter of failed probationers are incarcerated for technical revocations of supervision (excluding violations for new arrests). The results call for a better understanding of how disadvantage and privilege facilitate unequal criminal justice outcomes and, more broadly, the role of probation in exacerbating social inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook on Punishment Decisions
Subtitle of host publicationLocations of Disparity
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781315410364
ISBN (Print)9781138221475
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor and Francis.


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