Dolly Prabhu

  • Hosted by Abolitionist Law Center
  • Sponsored by McDermott Will & Emery
  • Service location Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Law school University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Dolly aims to reduce the scope of community supervision in Pennsylvania through a combination of education, advocacy, and litigation.

Although probation and parole are often viewed as alternatives to incarceration, data shows that both function as major drivers of incarceration throughout this country. These populations are often overlooked when addressing mass incarceration, even though they make up the majority of jail populations and new prison admissions in many regions. Probation and parole violations that cause people to be reincarcerated are often technical (non-criminal) violations, such as staying out past curfew, missing a meeting with a parole/probation officer, failing a drug test, or associating with people who have criminal records. Many people under community supervision also struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues—conditions that are exacerbated by constant reincarceration and which make it far more difficult to comply with parole or probation conditions. Dolly’s project seeks to shed light on the social impact of community supervision while also finding ways to challenge its overuse.

Fellowship Plans

To address this issue, Dolly will write a policy report on probation and parole, highlighting the scale of the issue in Pennsylvania and the racial disparities inherent in and perpetuated by community supervision. Dolly will collaborate with local community organizations in crafting this report. She will also work with attorneys at the Abolitionist Law Center to develop potential impact litigation that will aim to reduce the scale of these populations.

The more I learned about probation and parole, the more I realized that these “alternatives” to incarceration keep people trapped in perpetual oscillation between restrictive supervision and reincarceration, ensuring that they never have the stability they need to break free from this cycle.

Dolly Prabhu /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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