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Articles by Jean Trounstine

Revocation Nation: Reincarceration for Technical Parole Violations in the Age of COVID-19

Jonathan Best had been out of prison for two years when he ended a rocky relationship with his girlfriend. Like many men and women on parole—a form of early release, in which the remainder of one’s sentence is served in the community—he suffered from depression and anxiety.

At the time, Best often had to choose between paying his monthly $80 parole fee and putting food on the table. He worried that if he got pulled over for speeding, a warning would go straight to his parole officer (PO). Like many who face the stress of reentry from prisons in the US, Best sometimes coped by using drugs or alcohol. He rarely felt free.

Best never found out exactly what happened on Aug 16, 2012, the day he was sent back to prison. Nor does he know what part his ex-girlfriend played in his return, though Best suspects that she called his PO and told the officer that he was doing drugs.

Unofficial protocol was for Best’s PO to appear at his doorstep; supervision often means giving up one’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy in one’s home. But on ...

Changing Perception, Changing The Law

What Mass. lawmakers can learn from the battle to end death by incarceration across the country

by Jean Trounstine, DigBoston, March 3, 2020

With 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States is the world’s largest jailer. Yet after decades of holding this dubious honor, many Americans have begun to question what Fordham law professor John Plaff calls “this massive experiment in punitive social control.” Decarceration is being discussed in states across the country.

In the debate over decarceration, advocates have realized that it is not enough to merely push for “low-level nonviolent drug offenders” to be let out. Decarceration defies such “easy fixes,” Plaff said. Rather, in order to reduce our prison population, we must change how we respond to violent crimes. As a recent article in Slate argued, “replacing the death penalty with death in prison is not true progress.”

A growing movement is calling for an end to harsh sentencing, and in particular, an end to “death by incarceration.”  Sometimes called a push to “Drop LWOP” or determination to “bring them home,” in recent years, education campaigns have taken hold to end what many call “perpetual punishment.” From Vermont to California, activists are finding ...



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