MEDIA — District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, the Honorable Kevin Kelly, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Delaware County, and County Councilman Kevin Madden announced today the launch of the “Early Earned Release” pilot project designed to reduce the number of individuals on probation in Delaware County.

The pilot project will begin on April 1, 2021, and will provide individuals convicted of certain low-level offenses with the opportunity to reduce their period of supervision. By complying with the terms of their probation, including the payment of any restitution, individuals will be able to reduce their period of probation by one-half. In the event that the individual has unpaid court costs, those amounts will result in a civil lien but will not result in continued supervision. Judge Kelly stated that the pilot program will be evaluated on a quarterly basis, with careful attention paid to any instances in which an individual granted early release from supervision re-offends.

“We are very gratified to be able to announce the results of this collaboration between the Court and the District Attorney,” said President Judge Kelly. “Over several months, representatives from each office have met to map out a way for us to safely reduce the number of people under supervision in our County. I want to personally express my appreciation to everyone involved with this worthwhile collaboration, particularly Danielle Hibberd, the Acting Interim Director of Adult Probation & Parole. I believe that taking the steps we announce today will improve the lives of the people affected by allowing them to more easily take care of their families and themselves, without putting public safety at risk. In addition, reducing the number of individuals under supervision will save the County much needed tax dollars,” said Kelly.

Probation refers to what happens when a judge or jury decides to allow an individual convicted of a criminal offense to serve all or a portion of their time without being incarcerated. While on probation, they must follow specific rules, such as regular check-ins and drug testing, and they are supervised by a probation officer. However, research has shown that long probation sentences are not associated with lower rates of recidivism and are more likely than shorter ones to lead to technical violations – noncompliance with one or more supervision rules, such as missing appointments or testing positive for drug use. The result of such noncompliance is often incarceration.

“As the District Attorney, my first obligation is to preserve public safety,” said Stollsteimer. “However, the research clearly supports the reforms we announce today. The incremental benefit to the community, compared to the burden placed on the individual under supervision, as well as the economic cost of unnecessary supervision, is simply not justified. If an individual has successfully completed half of their term of probation after the commission of one of the specified offenses, we can and should support their successful efforts at reentry by an early termination of their supervision. And I firmly believe that we can do so without any increased risk to public safety.”

“Criminal justice reform has, quite understandably, been at the forefront of our national conversation,” said Councilman Madden. “It is an issue that I have been quite passionate about during my tenure on County Council, and – in my capacity as Chair of the Jail Oversight Board – is an issue that I have considerable familiarity with. I am enormously grateful to Judge Kelly and District Attorney

Stollsteimer for their collaboration on this important project. The pilot project they announce today is a small, but vital, first step toward better aligning our public safety goals with the needs of the reentrant community,” said Madden.