The invisible victims of mass incarceration : Code Switch In the past decade, the problem of mass incarceration has gotten increased attention and thought. But in his new book, Mass Supervision, Vincent Schiraldi argues that in those conversations, people often neglect to think about probation and parole — two of the biggest feeders to the U.S.'s prison population. These systems surveil close to four million Americans, which Schiraldi says is both a huge waste of resources and a massive human rights violation. On this episode, we're talking to Schiraldi about how probation and parole came to be, why they're no longer working as they were once supposed to, and why he thinks they might need to be done away with entirely.

Almost 4 million people are on probation or parole. Here's why that matters.

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Just a heads up, y'all. This episode has some cussing, so watch out.

What's good, y'all? You're listening to CODE SWITCH. I'm Gene Demby. OK. So some years ago, I was home visiting my family in Philly for a week, and I mentioned to my cousin that I wanted to go buy some sneaks. And my cousin was like, cool, let's go. We hopped in the car and headed to a spot in South Jersey just across the river. It couldn't have been more than a 25-minute drive. We shopped a little, maybe for, like, 45 minutes, and then we headed back home. A completely unremarkable excursion.

But as we drove back, my cousin started to get worried because it had somehow not crossed either of our minds until we were nearly back home, but my cousin was on probation, and it was majorly against the rules for people on probation to cross state lines without getting permission from an official, like a probation officer, well in advance. So our stupid, little, spontaneous jaunt to cop some sneakers could have ended with them getting locked up. It just depended on a whole lot of stuff, like whether their probation officer or judge wanted to turn this into a thing. And I remember my cousin being despondent for a few days, wondering whether they had just blown up their freedom.


DEMBY: And it was a real reason to worry, 'cause in my hometown, a mind-boggling number of people likely find themselves sweating over whether they messed up like we did that afternoon, stressing over stuff that is barely notable for those of us without convictions, let alone jailable. In 2018, one in 22 adults in Philly was on probation or parole. One in 22. From 2008 to 2018, nearly half of the people who went to prison in the state of Pennsylvania were there because of a parole violation, which is to say you're not being locked up because you committed a new crime. Maybe you missed an appointment with your P.O. because you couldn't take off from your job. Maybe you just don't have a job. Depending on where you live, that might be a violation. Depending on where you live, buying, selling or driving your car without permission might count as a violation.

One other common stipulation is that you just can't keep company with someone who has been convicted of a felony. Hard to get around that if you live in, say, a Black neighborhood that is overpoliced and where there's a large population of people with records - #housingsegregation and everything. Or it could just mean you didn't tell a state agent that you were crossing some state lines to buy some kicks with your cousin.


DEMBY: And we should be clear here, Philly is hardly some outlier. Parole and probation are the two biggest pegs of a system referred to as community supervision. And that system ensnares a lot of people.

VINCENT SCHIRALDI: About 4 million people, which is twice as many people as are in our prisons and jails.

DEMBY: That's Vincent Schiraldi.

SCHIRALDI: I am currently the secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services for Maryland, but I've been in this field for, like, 43 years in nonprofits, academia and running several correctional and probation departments.

DEMBY: Vinny was a social worker. He was an organizer, and somehow he came to run the probation department in New York City. And he says we all need to be paying way, way more attention to the ways that community supervision is uniformly underfunded and ignored and gives a lot of discretion to overworked parole and probation officers. And he says this system puts the lives of so many people - a disproportionate number of whom, unsurprisingly, are people of color - on a knife's edge. Vinny has a lot of horror stories like this one from early in his tenure in New York City.

SCHIRALDI: They said, hey, why don't we step into the court over here because it's a probation case. So I step in, and I'm horrified. This woman is crying, and she's telling the judge, I'm done with probation. Send me to the notoriously violent Rikers Island jail. Because she's a single mom and she is not permitted to bring her child with her when she goes to her probation office meetings. And she's essentially run out of favors with her aunt, her grandmother, her mother, her neighbors, to watch her kid while she comes down from Harlem to lower Manhattan and spends that 2 1/2 hours waiting to see her PO. And she's at the end of her rope and just says, I want to be done with this, Judge. Send me back to jail.


DEMBY: In this episode, y'all, we're talking to Vinny about his new book. It's called "Mass Supervision: Probation, Parole, And The Illusion Of Safety And Freedom." And in this book, he explains just how we got here and argues that it's time we start experimenting with maybe getting rid of this whole system.

SCHIRALDI: This pair of devices - probation and parole - that were invented to divert people from prison and to rehabilitate them are failing on both counts.


DEMBY: In order to understand our current system, we have to understand where it comes from. To do that, I asked Vinny to start out by just walking us through the history of probation and parole. So let's start with probation. Probation is on the front end of incarceration. And this story takes us to 19th-century Boston and to a guy named John Augustus. John Augustus is a bootmaker.

SCHIRALDI: And a temperance movement guy - you know, Alcoholics Anonymous, if you will. And he started to go down to the courts and bail people out who were facing time in their brutal house of correction and - because he was - he thought there could be a better way. And what he said to the judge is, let me take this person and see if I can rehabilitate them and bring them back to you. And if I have rehabilitated them, you give me the bail back and suspend their sentence. And he did this several thousand times. He started to recruit his temperance movement friends to be voluntary helpers in this work. And, you know, basically, he's considered the father of probation.

DEMBY: In the book, you write that the cops and constables were not fans of John Augustus. Can you say why?

SCHIRALDI: There was money in all of this right from the beginning. So when the police made arrests, if the person was convicted and incarcerated, they got money. If the person wasn't, then it was viewed as a waste of the court's time, so the police officers didn't get paid for it. So when Augustus came and bailed them out, they were losing money. And so what they started doing was to put all of the people Augustus wanted to release at the end of the docket. Now, he was actually a successful bootmaker. And because of everything being delayed, he'd be sitting around in court all day, and it cost him financially. Eventually, he dies destitute because his business failed.


DEMBY: And then there's parole, which comes on the other side of incarceration.

SCHIRALDI: And parole is the French word for word. It's literally you are giving your word to the state that you'll go out and behave.

DEMBY: That began as an experiment in Australia when it was still a British penal colony. The conditions in the prisons there were so bad that the person overseeing them decided to try something different, like releasing some of those prisoners with help and supervision from volunteers. That experiment with prisoner release was brought to the U.S. by a dude named Zebulon Brockway. I'm sorry, that is an incredible name. And Zebulon Brockway ran the Elmira prison in New York.

SCHIRALDI: Again, it was originally voluntary. It was short term and very bespoke. You know, it was individualized. There was a rehabilitative ethic, if not reality, attached to all of these things.


DEMBY: This stuff was all meant to be about reforming the people who were locked up. And you can kind of hear that ethos in our language around jails and prisons - penitentiary - a place for penitence - Department of Corrections. But things changed in a big way. So let's fast-forward a century to the Nixon administration. It's always Nixon or Reagan on the show.

SCHIRALDI: A couple of things happen. One is the Republicans launch their Southern strategy. Nixon decides that there's a lot of upheaval in the United States, and there's this silent majority out there that's, you know, freaking out because they think it should all be like "Ozzie And Harriet" television shows, and it's not working out that way. Their kids are protesting. They're smoking pot, and they're having sex. And there's lots of Black people protesting in the streets, and it's scaring them. And the Republicans decide to tap into this. And they decide to politicize poverty issues and crime issues in ways that it's hard for us now, in our generation, who've grown up with this, to remember that, prior to the 1970s, these things were not vibrant political issues. Criminal justice just wasn't on the radar as a dividing-line issue. So in 1972, Nixon launches the war on drugs. And every year from then to 2008, prison populations grow. So in '72, we have about the same incarceration rate as our Western allies. By 2008, we have an incarceration rate that is five, seven, 10 times our Western allies.

Again, I said two things happens. One is the Southern strategy and the war on drugs, and the other is a sort of obscure report about prison programs written by the City University of New York as to what does and does not work in prisons so that the corrections system can use more stuff that works and less stuff that doesn't work. And it found equivocal findings. And so it's a mixed bag, and it didn't get really much publicity. But one of the authors, a guy named Robert Martinson, decides to distill it and publish it in the neoconservative public interest. And it gets a moniker of nothing works when it comes to rehabilitating, quote-unquote, "offenders." And this just explodes, not because it's a particularly well-done piece of research - in fact, Martinson recants its findings a few years later - but because it landed at such an opportune political moment. So Martinson's on the front page of People magazine. He's on "60 Minutes" spouting that nothing works when it comes to rehabilitating people.

So between these two things - right? - the Southern strategy, the launch of the war on drugs and the nothing works credo, people start to abandon rehabilitation by the bucketload left and right. So now you're head of a probation department, and, all of a sudden, nobody believes in rehabilitation. Well, what do you got? That's all you're in the business of. At least prisons - when you stop believing in rehabilitation, you've got punishment. You've got deterrence. You've got incapacitation. You've got a bunch of stuff you're still delivering on. But on probation and parole, all you got is your ability to turn people's lives around. So the field pivots, and it starts to become more punitive, more focused on surveillance, more focused on reducing risk.

DEMBY: You write in the book about the saturation of surveillance in certain neighborhoods in which large chunks of the population are under some kind of state supervision - places like Sixth Street in Philadelphia or places like Milwaukee, where, you know, big chunks of people are on parole and probation. Can you tell us a little bit about how that affects the way everyday life looks in those places?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So, I mean, you know, ethnographers, over time, have embedded themselves in neighborhoods - Alice Goffman in Sixth Street in Philadelphia, Rios in Oakland - and really closely observed not just the individual-level, but the community-level impacts of mass supervision, mass surveillance. And now you got all these young, mostly men that are under surveillance either because they're out on pretrial release; they're out on bail; there's a warrant out for their arrest; they're on probation; they're on parole. And, you know, you get, in some neighborhoods, to a serious tipping point where a substantial portion of your young men are on the run.

Now, you know, think about it. You have these prime-age young men, whose job in a middle-class community is to finish college, finish high school, gain work experience, build social capital so they can be the kind of people we all want them to be - right? - productive, hardworking family men and women. And I mostly say men not because I'm a sexist, but 85, 90% of the people on probation and parole and in prison are men. So now you take all these prime-age men, and you turn them into fugitives or people who are less than fully free and less than fully participating in this effort to build social capital. And the whole community gets affected by this. They got to pick sides. Am I on the side of the police, who are chasing my sons, my nephews, my daughters, my neighbors? Or am I on the side of the people on probation, some of whom have legitimately done bad things? That's a lousy choice to force people to make.


DEMBY: Coming up - how Vinny participates in the very system that he's critiquing.

SCHIRALDI: As an advocate, I can throw the long pass. As a government official, I got to get what I can get through compromise because sometimes political systems aren't ready for the long ball. But I got my eyes on the prize.

DEMBY: That's coming up. Stay with us.


DEMBY: Gene - just Gene this week, y'all - CODE SWITCH. We've been talking to Vincent Schiraldi about the origins and effects of our current system of probation and parole. We're using the term community supervision to cover both those things. And Vinny isn't a casual observer or academic. He's actually been running probation and correction departments for a long time - for decades. Here's more of our conversation.


DEMBY: Do we have any sense of what the demographics of the people under state supervision are today?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. Interestingly, it's disproportionately people of color - not as disproportionate as prisons. And, you know, theorists have a couple of thoughts about that. One is that, for some people, it is indeed an alternative to incarceration. And the research shows that, for white middle-class people - you know, the Hunter Bidens of the world? - you know, it can serve as a true alternative to them going to prison. The data shows that, for people of color, it's more likely to be an add-on, and they're less likely to make it through without getting violated and incarcerated.



DEMBY: So even the way that this sort of ostensible alternative to incarceration works for people of color is not an alternative to incarceration. It's just an addition to incarceration.

SCHIRALDI: Right. It contributes to mass incarceration and contributes to disparities in mass incarceration.


SCHIRALDI: And it does so, I think, in a couple of ways. You know, one is just explicit and implicit bias, but then there's also these other things - you know, police are going to be in poor neighborhoods, which are disproportionately Black and brown neighborhoods, at greater levels than they'll be in white neighborhoods. Kids in white suburbia can smoke a joint in the backyard, and they won't have anybody sticking their hands in their pockets. That's not true in Brownsville. It's not true in South Central.

And then poverty really does play itself into this. Most of my career, I've had professional jobs. And if, when I was at Columbia, I was on probation, and I needed to spend 2 1/2 hours sitting in a probation office waiting to see my P.O. for him to ask me the same seven questions he asked me the week earlier and have me piss in a cup to see if I use drugs, I wouldn't get fired from Columbia. They would give me that 2 1/2 hours. I'd tack it onto the end of the day. Or, frankly, in academia, nobody knows where you are anyway...

DEMBY: (Laughter).

SCHIRALDI: ...Right? If I was working at McDonald's or a mechanic's, I can't just disappear for 2 1/2 hours.

DEMBY: Right.

SCHIRALDI: And I'm telling you - I have seen guys sitting in waiting rooms, waiting to see their PO, for 2 1/2 hours. And what the mental conversation there is is, who am I going to piss off today? Am I going to piss off my boss by coming back late, and he's going to add this to the mental tally he has over how long he's going to let me stay employed by him, or am I going to piss off my probation officer or parole officer, who has the power to incarcerate me? You know, middle-class people don't have to make that tally at the same level.

DEMBY: Well, speaking of money and class, you write that in many places, the work of managing people's probation and their parole is now being outsourced to private contractors. How did that come to be?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So, I mean, mass incarceration and mass supervision, you know, were generally conservative-driven ideas, and conservatives were driving other ideas at the same time, which is tax cuts. So of all the things you want to pay for if you're a conservative, you certainly don't want to put any more than you absolutely have to into probation and parole and prisons. And so caseloads grow, resources available to help people for probation and parole officers decline and somebody comes up with the idea that we should just start to charge what's called user fees for people on probation. Well, once that started happening - and it happens in big numbers, so about half of, for example, Texas' probation offices, half of their budget comes from fees extracted from people on probation. That's public probation.

But then somebody quickly thinks, well, wait a minute, if there's fees involved here, I can make money off of this. And so they start to go to small communities that are - particularly after the crash in 2008 and say you're paying for a probation department. Why bother? I'll do it for free for you. We'll supervise all your people, and we'll get the money out of them. And you know what else? We'll kick some money back into the public coffers. We'll throw you a profit, and we'll make a profit, ourselves. And we'll do it all on the backs of poor people. And so when that starts to happen, now hundreds of thousands of people go on private probation.

Many of them, just because they couldn't pay a fine, like they got broken taillights or drunk driving or speeding and they start to accumulate fines, a court brings them in and says Gene, can you pay this fine? And you say, yeah. So you pay it and you go. Vinny, can you pay this fine? I - I'm not - I'm sorry. I lost my job. I can't pay it. All right, well, we're going to put you on probation and then - until you pay your fine. And you're going to also have to pay for probation because it's a private company. So now I'm paying for probation and a fine I couldn't pay and a probation company is starting to add stuff on. They're going to drug test me and make me pay for that. They're going to put me on electronic monitoring and make me pay for that. They're going to start to think of clever ways to get this money. So they know I get a check from the government every month. They're showing up on the first when my check comes before my wife and kids and landlord get a shot at the - at my check. Literally, the probation officers are saying we do this. This is our strategy so we come first.


SCHIRALDI: And they threaten to put you in prison. They call your wife and say you better pay his fee this month because we're going to lock him up if you don't. And so then they're deciding on food for the kids or probation fees for that. And you see people start to go to prison for this and start to go to jail for this when the whole original thing was they were too poor to pay some stupid traffic fine or...


SCHIRALDI: ...Other fine.

DEMBY: How many people are behind bars today because of technical violations of their parole or probation and not because they committed a crime or reoffended?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So this is not a trivial issue. About a quarter of the people entering our prison system - our largest-in-the-world prison system - enter for technical, noncriminal violations of probation or parole. One out of four.

DEMBY: I mean, so we could dramatically reduce the incarcerated population by either making the rules around probation and parole more lenient or just reducing or doing away with probation and parole altogether.

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. That's right. It costs about 2.8 billion - with a B - dollars - and that's just a prison cost. That doesn't include the jail costs. The jail costs are considerable - a year for our country. And, you know, let's think about what the goal is here. The goal is to try to help people turn their lives around and do so in the community rather than being incarcerated.

Well, instead of, you know, and this is what I said in my interview with Mayor Bloomberg. You know, the department's budget was $80 million, and we had 30,000 people on probation. And I said, you know, if I came to you - if probation didn't exist in your town and I came to you with $80 million and 30,000 troubled and troubling souls and said to you do whatever you want with this $80 million to make this situation better, to help these people thrive and to improve public safety, I'm pretty sure that what you wouldn't do is run out and hire a thousand disinterested, civil-service protected bureaucrats to have them come into the office and p*** in a cup once a week and tell them to go forth, and sin no more. And he said, no, I wouldn't do that. And I said, well, I haven't been to your system, so I'm not picking on you, but I'm betting that's what you got right now.

Most elected leaders, they don't think about probation. They don't give five minutes thought to probation. What's your favorite probation movie, Gene? You know? Like, we don't tell stories about probation. If I said what's your favorite prison movie, you'd have a list. But there's no - there's not much research. There's not much advocacy. There's not much cultural reference to it. You know, Meek Mill is the peak of America's understanding of probation and parole. And, you know, for half a minute, America paid attention to this. But then we move on. And I think we need to do better than move on.

DEMBY: We give probation officers in the system a lot of discretion in how they follow up on these rules. Are there any checks on that discretion?

SCHIRALDI: I mean, it's super interesting. You know, unlike a lot of correctional systems where there's civilian oversight or litigation and the court appoints a monitor, you almost never find that stuff with probation. We're out there on our own. And you have these front-line public servants who have enormous discretion that very few people ever check on. If you're a probation officer and you're overwhelmed, you've got hundreds of people on your caseload, and, you know, there's not enough resources in your community to help turn people's lives around; you can't find housing for people; you can't find drug treatment; you can't find job programs, with the stroke of a pen, you can spend $50,000 of government resources reincarcerating somebody. It's the only major resource you have easily available to you. All the other stuff, you have to hold bake sales for.

DEMBY: What are the considerations that judges and probation officers are making when clients are in front of them?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So I want to say, like, I'm not laying anything on the individual probation officers. I saw a lot of people struggling with this, and there was a lot of anxiety, an enormous amount of anxiety, amongst my staff. And they told me. The morale was terrible. And they said straight up, we are incarcerating people that we don't think need to be incarcerated because if we don't and something goes wrong, you will throw us under the bus, fire us, transfer us, demote us, humiliate us.

DEMBY: Could you tell us a little bit about how parole and probation became the focus of your work? - because you kind of had a circuitous path into this work.

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So I was a bit of an organizer. I think real organizers would call me a fake organizer. I was an advocate, I think, probably more. I used to write reports, debate politicians, do op-eds, do commentaries and also ran alternatives to incarceration and was very, very critical of Washington, D.C.'s juvenile justice system. And surprisingly, I think out of an act of desperation, the mayor of D.C. hired me to run the system. It was kind of a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is moment.

DEMBY: How did you feel when that happened?

SCHIRALDI: I was frightened and thrilled. Staff were beating the kids up.

DEMBY: Oh, my.

SCHIRALDI: They were sexually assaulting them. There were so many drugs in that facility that kids actually were testing positive more frequently after they had been with us a month than upon entrance, which meant it was easier to score drugs in my facility than on the streets of the District of Columbia. And I was the 20th director of the department in 19 years. So, really, the plane was crashing.

And, you know, we did a lot of good there. We closed the awful facility, substantially downsized, moved a lot of kids into the community and wraparound programs in their own families' homes and created a decent culture that was not abusive in the new facility that we opened, which was much, much smaller than the old facility. So I felt good about that, but I was exhausted. There was a lot of staff sabotage and resistance. Some staff bought into it, but some were old-school guards, and they were very much spare-the-rod, spoil-the-child types, and they did not like my touchy-feely approach. I was the first white director of the department, right?


SCHIRALDI: And so I think there was, you know, some resistance to this sort of white savior stuff that goes on. And, you know, cannot blame people. It's not like white department heads have been the friends of a lot of the staff that worked for me, or the kids for that matter. All the kids were Black, by the way. I ran that system for five years, and I never had one white kid committed to my care. They were either Black or Latino - every single kid. And most of the staff were, too.

DEMBY: Because of the demographics of D.C.?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. I mean, there were a lot of white kids that got arrested for violent felonies. While I was there, I used to check the data every year. They just never managed to make it to my system. You know, we have a good system in America. It's the one that routinely kicks into gear when white middle-class kids get in trouble. It's just we need to apply that to everybody. Resources get brought to bear. Cases are individualized. Care and love are put on the table, which just - I don't feel like we extend that to kids of color, particularly poor kids of color.

DEMBY: You make the case that at the very least, we need to dramatically reduce the scale of community supervision. But you argue that cities and states should be experimenting with abolishing it in many cases. What would that look like?

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So when I was at Columbia, I helped organize a group called EXiT - Executives Transforming Probation and Parole, which doesn't exactly spell EXiT. But...

DEMBY: I was about to ask.

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. You know, and some people complained about that, but EXiT was cool enough, so we went with it. And it's over a hundred probation and parole commissioners - some of them are still commissioners; some of them are retired - as well as a bunch of district attorneys, formerly incarcerated people, academics who have formed a group that says, this is out of control. It's not helping people, and it's hurting people. And we should at least make it smaller, less punitive and more rehabilitative.

So they call for shorter terms, the ability to earn your way off sooner if you're behaving well - so if you've got a one-year term, every month you don't get violated, you get a month off; so if you're good the whole time, you're off in six months - and to either abolish or heavily reduce violations for technical conditions. In fact, I think they say eliminate it; just stop doing it. Don't lock anybody up for something that's not a crime. Like, sounds like a radical notion, right? So at least start with that. And some states have done that - New York. An act called the Less Is More Act was passed a couple of years ago to very heavily reduce what you could be incarcerated for. And I think that's - all that is good.

And all of that should be accompanied by a shift in the money that's saved to be invested in heavily impacted communities. But then - you now, I looked even deeper in and said, look, if less supervision is correlated with less crime and less incarceration, what would no supervision look like? There's a couple of experiments with this. Some of those counties down south that are using private probation companies have been sued successfully, and some of them, they just abolished the probation department. And so nobody on a misdemeanor gets probation. The court just orders them to do X, Y and Z. And then every once in a while, they come back, and the judge says, OK, did you get your anger management class? Did you do 20 hours of community service? The guy says yes. The gal says yes. Case closed. Virginia completely did away with parole supervision from 1995 to 1999, actually, four years.

DEMBY: This is a big state, big population. Yeah.

SCHIRALDI: Yeah, big state. So what happened? Did the crime go out of control because of the, you know, safety impact of supervising all these people? Nothing - there was a 30% decline in crime during that time in Virginia. Now, I'm not saying abolishing parole caused that, but, you know, does the emperor have no clothes on here? I think it's worth asking this question. After 180-plus years of probation and parole, what would things look like without them and how could we craft that?

So what I suggest is - on the abolition front is experiment with it. In places that - where there's lots of people on misdemeanor probation, experiment with saying nobody on a misdemeanor can get probation. Capture the savings, put them into communities and study the hell out of it. Like - because we're doing an experiment every day. It's called parole. It's called probation. And so far, the outcomes from that experiment are no more safety, no fewer people locked up, lots of racial disparities, high costs. Let's see what the opposite of that looks like.

I'm not saying just junk it all tomorrow, but incremental abolition that gets studied, like I described. If those folks commit new crimes, they can still go to prison or jail like anybody else who commits a new crime. It's just they don't get locked up for the stupid stuff, the technicals that are noncriminal acts, and we're not spending money on babysitters to watch them. We're spending that money on housing, on jobs, on education, on drug treatment, on mental health services so that people can start a new life.

DEMBY: You said that states and cities should experiment with an approach around incremental abolition of state supervision. But you also have a chapter in your book called "The Limits Of Incrementalism." And I'd like you, if you could, to sort of outline the argument you make in that chapter.

SCHIRALDI: Yeah. So I'm a little equivocal in the book, right? I understand that you can't always throw the long ball, but I want us to not be satisfied with tinkering on this. I think this is a big human rights violation. I think it's a substantial waste of money and creates and contributes to disparities in an already wildly disparate penal system that we have in America. So I don't want to be satisfied with, oh, we got a better risk assessment instrument, or, you know, we were able to reduce technical violations by 5%, but we're still sending thousands of people back to prison for noncriminal violations. And I want to have a goal where nobody's getting locked up for technical violations, or nobody's getting supervised at all, and we're putting money where it actually makes it difference to help people and to help public safety.

DEMBY: Vincent Schiraldi is the secretary of Maryland's juvenile services. His book, "Mass Supervision: Probation, Parole And The Illusion Of Safety And Freedom," just published this month. Vinnie, we appreciate you. Thank you for coming on.

SCHIRALDI: Thank you very much.


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And next week is NPR's Climate Week, where we'll spend seven days focused on innovators working to build a better world for the next generation and the ones after that. On next week's episode of CODE SWITCH, the story of young people at a classroom in South Baltimore where for the past decade, high school students have been on the vanguard of environmental justice activism. For more stories like that, head to for a spotlight on solutions.

This episode was produced by Jess Kung. It was edited by Leah Donnella. Our engineer was Robert Rodriguez, and we would be remiss if we did not shout out the rest of the CODE SWITCH massive. That's Christina Cala, Courtney Stein, B.A. Parker, Lori Lizarraga, Steve Drummond, Dalia Mortada and Veralyn Williams. As for me, I'm Gene Demby. Be easy, y'all.

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