Mass Supervision: Probation, Parole, and the Illusion of Safety and Freedom with Vincent Schiraldi and Bill Ayers

Vincent Schiraldi and Bill Ayers will be at Pilsen Community Books for a discussion of Vincent's new book Mass Supervision, the most comprehensive critique of probation and parole—and a provocative and compelling argument for abolishing both—from the former Probation Commissioner of New York City. We’ve heard a lot in recent years about the nearly 2.1 million people incarcerated in American prisons and jails. But what about the approximately 4 million more who are on probation and parole—monitored by the state at great expense and at risk of being sent to prison at the whim of a probation or parole officer for the least imaginable infraction? Vincent Schiraldi was New York City probation commissioner under Mayor Bloomberg, supervising a system charged with monitoring 30,000 people on a daily basis. In Mass Supervision, he combines firsthand experience with deep research on the inadequately explored practices of probation and parole, to illustrate how these forms of state supervision have strayed from their original goal of providing constructive and rehabilitative alternatives to prison. They have become instead, Schiraldi argues, a “recidivism trap” for people trying to lead productive lives in the wake of a criminal conviction. Schiraldi offers the first full and up-to-date account of these two key aspects of our criminal justice system, showing that these practices increase incarceration, have little impact on crime rates, and needlessly disrupt countless lives. Ultimately, he argues that they should be dramatically downsized or even abolished completely. Bill Ayers is an author, activist, and educator whose books include with Crystal Laura and Rick Ayers “You Can’t Fire the Bad Ones!” And 18 Other Myths About Teachers, Teachers’ Unions, and Public Education (Beacon Press, 2018), Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto (Haymarket Books, 2016), Teaching with Conscience in an Imperfect World: An Invitation (Teachers College Press, 2016), Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident (Beacon Press, 2013), with Ryan Alexander-Tanner To Teach: The Journey in Comics (Teachers College Press, 2010), with Bernardine Dohrn Race Course: Against White Supremacy (Third World Press 2008), with Rick Ayers Teaching the Taboo: Courage and Imagination in the Classroom (Teachers College Press, 2011), Teaching toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom (Beacon Press, 2004), with Kevin Kumashiro, Erica Meiners, Therese Quinn, and David Stovall Teaching toward Democracy: Educators as Agents of Change (Paradigm, 2010), A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press, 1997), Fugitive Days: A Memoir (Beacon Press, 2001, 2008), On the Side of the Child: Summerhill Revisited (Teachers College Press, 2003), Teaching the Personal and the Political: Essays on Hope and Justice (Teachers College Press, 2004), The Good Preschool Teacher: Six Teachers Reflect on Their Lives, (Teachers College Press, 1989), and To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, (Teachers College Press, 1993) which was named Book of the Year in 1993 by Kappa Delta Pi, and won the Witten Award for Distinguished Work in Biography and Autobiography in 1995.